Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari began a two-day visit to Cameroon on Wednesday in a bid to soothe fractious ties between the West African neighbours and strengthen cooperation against Islamist militant group Boko Haram.Buhari’s first visit to Cameroon since his election in March comes as the militant group, which has sworn allegiance to Islamic State, has launched a fresh wave of attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Buhari, wearing a white traditional
robe, was greeted on arrival at Yaounde international airport by
82-year-old Cameroonian President Paul Biya. The two were to hold talks
at the presidential palace on Wednesday, before making a joint statement
ahead of Buhari’s departure on Thursday.
Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad
and Niger waged an offensive against Boko Haram this year that broke its
grip over swathes of northeastern Nigeria, but it responded with
suicide bombings and raids that have spilled the conflict across
Tensions are running high in Cameroon’s Far North region
after three suicide attacks in the past week killed at least 60 people,
prompting the local government to announce the closure of some mosques,
ban burqas and forbid street hawkers.
In Nigeria, suspected Boko Haram attacks have killed at least 600 people since Buhari took office two months ago.
Information Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakari said Boko Haram had switched
to attacking civilian targets because it was no longer capable of
“The heads of state are going to discuss the
best means of eradicating this new form of belligerence and the
strategies to reduce Boko Haram,” he said.
Union-mandated, 8,700-strong regional taskforce, headquartered in the
Chadian capital N’Djamena, was due to start operations at the end of
this month but has been delayed by questions over funding.
Nigerian presidency said the talks would focus on the activation and
deployment of this force. Buhari is due to visit Benin, the fifth member
of the operation, on Saturday.
Relations between Cameroon and
Nigeria have been strained by a border dispute that flared into conflict
in 1993. Biya, in power since 1982, did not attend Buhari’s
inauguration and the Nigerian leader’s trip comes nearly two months
after he visited Chad and Niger.
In the past, Abuja has accused
Yaounde of dragging its feet over tackling Boko Haram, which analysts
say established rear bases on the Cameroonian side of the Mandara
Cameroon has complained that its efforts to combat the
militants have been hampered by Nigeria’s refusal to grant its forces
the right to pursue them onto its soil, which both Chad and Niger enjoy.
visit should help ease the climate of mistrust between Cameroon and
Nigeria,” said Njoya Moussa, a Cameroonian political analyst.
pray that they should talk about security because mostly it’s what we
need here in Cameroon and Nigeria,” said Doris Onuorah, a Nigerian
business woman in Yaounde.
Source: PM News