US and Africa to build security in the Lake Chad basin

Zubairu Muhammad

Lake chad map

The countries of the Lake Chad Basin region are, in fact, participating actively in providing security in the region. It was very much their initiative to establish the multinational joint task force to combat Boko Haram.

The U.S. government, both State Department and military, are assisting them through bilateral support as well as technical assistance to the countries affected in the region to combat Boko Haram and other threats in the Lake Chad Basin.

The U.S. Ambassador Susan D. Page, Chargé d’Affaires to the African Union, stated these, during a  media briefing with Africa Regional Media Hub, after the African Land Forces Summit 2016 held in Arusha, Tanzania.

She added that, some of the U.S. missions to the African Union include, assisting with not just the peace and security architecture, but helping to increase agricultural capacity, through a partnership with  United States Agency for International Development USAID and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, directly with the African Union’s Department of Rural Agriculture and Development, DREA.

“So the U.S. and the African Union work together to foster a more stable, democratic, and prosperous environment for citizens of Africa and the global community.  

The U.S. missions to the African Union priorities, our priorities align with President Obama’s national security strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa.  In brief, these are peace and security, democracy and governance promotion, agriculture, trade and investments, and transnational or global issues.  This includes health issues such as climate change, technical education,etcetera”.

The U.S. Ambassador added that, Some of the other areas where United States of America supports the African Union’s efforts are in democracy and governance, at promoting the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance.  And USAID also works with the African Union’s Democracy and Electoral Assistance Unit, which is part of the Political Affairs Department.

U.S. through training, and assistance, and study tours, and education helps them support free and fair elections, democratic principles, and just transitions of power and sound governance.   Mrs. Page said, there is need for global cooporations in fighting terrorism.

She said “The reality, though, is that all of these things are also a balance, and terrorism is clearly a challenge across the world.  It is not just a challenge in Africa, it is a challenge world-wide that we have to fight together.  And this is one of the exact topics that was discussed at this Land Forces Summit, is how we can cooperate better and strengthen our partnerships”.

She emphasized that, “If we at least are talking about these issues, not just about the electoral issues, but how do we combat these issues together, because it is a real menace”.

In his remarks the U.S. Army Major General Darryl A. Williams, Commander of U.S. Army Africa said,United State of America and Nigeria are exchanging tactics, techniques, and procedures, and sharing best practices with the Nigerians, and they are as well.  So we are both learning from each other.

He said “We are helping to build partner capacity in Nigeria.  And so our relationship, our cooperation, enables and builds the capacity of the Nigerian Army, as well as ours.  And so you are a better enabled army that is more competent and more capable, just like we get more competent and more capable through mutual training, and that is what is going on right now.  Mutual training is going on in Nigeria to deal with these threats”.

Mr. Williams also added that, the fight against insurgents requires a combination of civil and military approach, holistically.  Like it always does in any conflict, the security will provide the space for the local, regional, and national leaders to provide whatever support they need to do in the conflict.

This is the fourth summit.  The first one was in 2010 in the United States.  The second one was in Uganda in 2012, and then in Dakar, Senegal, and of course this year in Arusha Tanzania.

The African Land Forces Summit held in Arusha Tanzania, is an annual, weeklong summit bringing together land force chiefs of staff from throughout the African continent to discuss mutual threats and challenges from a regional perspective.

Ime Njoku