By Simon Ateba/Lagos @simonateba
President Muhammadu Buhari is “fully confident”, he said on Wednesday, that the Nigerian army will crush Boko Haram terrorists by December this year.
The terrorists have killed about 1700 people since Buhari was sworn into office in May, promising to crush the “godless, mindless” militants within few months.
Three bomb blasts on Tuesday left at least seven people dead in Maiduguri while a soldier was killed further down south in Kogi.
Since the Salafist insurgency began six years ago, more than 23,000 people have been killed and over 2.3 million others have been displaced in the Northeast. Nigeria’s House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara put the figure at 5 million.
Buhari, who spoke when he granted an audience to the Commander of United States Africa Command, Gen David Rodriguez, said with support from the West, Boko Haram will be dealt with by December.
The President seized the opportunity of General Rodriquez’s visit to restate his appreciation of the United States’ support for Nigeria’s efforts to overcome terrorism and insurgency, declared a statement by his spokesman Femi Adesina.
“We must thank the United States of America for sending training teams and equipment to us. The positive results of our collaboration are evident.
“Structured attacks by the insurgents have reduced and by the end of the year, we should see the final routing of Boko Haram as an organized fighting force, ” the President said.
President Buhari appealed, however, for greater cooperation from the United States in securing the Gulf of Guinea through which stolen Nigerian crude oil is shipped abroad.
He decried the severe revenue losses which Nigeria suffers from crude oil theft, but said his administration is determined to end this criminal practice and would welcome more support from the international community in this regard.
General Rodriguez, Adesina said, told Buhari that “he was in the country to strengthen Nigeria/United States military relations, and also explore further options for assisting the Multinational Joint Task Force established by Nigeria and her neighbours, to fight Boko Haram.”