Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on email@example.com
“President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed shock and sadness over the death of 13 French soldiers in Mali on Tuesday after a helicopter accident during an operation against terrorists in the country,” the presidency in Nigeria said in a statement on Wednesday.
It quoted President Buhari as saying: “I am deeply saddened by the news of this helicopter accident that claimed the lives of 13 French soldiers during an operation against the terrorists in the country.”
The Nigerian leader noted that the incident is of significance to Nigeria because France is a major international partner in the war against terrorism.
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“We recognise France’s extensive experience in the war on terror and their assistance to African countries, including Nigeria, to tackle terrorism that poses the greatest security threat to the affected countries.
“Terrorism is a global problem that demands international cooperation, and I praise the efforts of the French government in assisting us in confronting this monster,” he said.
He also called on the French government not to allow this unfortunate incident to dampen its enthusiasm in terms of her active support towards fighting terrorism in Africa.
“On behalf of my government and the people of Nigeria, I extend our heartfelt condolences and prayers to the families of these patriotic soldiers that died in the line of duty. May their souls rest in peace”, President Buhari said.
That sounded good and a more like how a great leader should act in the face of tragedy. But…but, Mr. Buhari has rarely mourned Nigerian soldiers killed by Boko Haram.
Instead, he has tried to downplay casualty by repeating the fabricated claim that Boko Haram has been defeated, although “technically”.
By putting himself in a box, mourning the weekly massacres of Boko Haram would put a light into lies and Mr. Buhari often does not say anything when 10, 30 or a hundred soldiers are killed by a group of terrorists that refers to itself as Islamic State West Africa.
Just last December, the New York Times was reporting that Boko Haram was fully back, and with better drones.
“Nigeria’s war against the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram was supposed to be over by now. President Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, was re-elected earlier this year after boasting about his progress battling Boko Harm. He has repeatedly declared that the group has been “technically defeated.” On Tuesday, the president conceded that “its members are still a nuisance.”
“A full decade into the war, however, Boko Haram militants are still roaming the countryside with impunity. Their fighters now have more sophisticated drones than the military and are well-armed after successful raids on military brigades, according to local politicians and security analysts,” the New York Times said.
The Associated Press and other local and international newspapers, including TODAY NEWS AFRICA, have consistently documented the war on terror in Nigeria and the massacres of Nigerian soldiers by Boko Haram.
Yet, very rarely has Mr. Buhari even released the names of those killed or given them dignified burials.
The fact that he’s mourning French soldiers killed in Mali may alienate many people who have watched the retired Major-General vow he would crush Boko Haram while campaigning in 2014 and 2015 only to see him fail, lie and disrespect the nation’s heroes killed in battlefields by the truckloads.