Nigeria on Thursday welcomed a US decision to send up to 300 military personnel to Cameroon to help the regional fight against Boko Haram, despite having itself requested more direct help from Washington.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman Garba Shehu said the deployment was a “welcome development” while the military said it demonstrated cooperation was needed against the Islamists.
US President Barack Obama on Thursday said 90 personnel had already been sent and the full contingent would conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
“The United States has given the pledge to support the fight against Boko Haram in Nigeria and in the region,” Shehu told AFP by telephone.
“This is the fulfilment of that pledge and we are very happy about it. The United States’ move is quite commendable.”
Military spokesman Colonel Rabe Abubakar added: “This is how the fight can be done collectively with partners cooperating with us to fight against a common cause — terrorism — which has been ravaging the region for some time now.
“We appeal to other nations to emulate the good example of the United States. The United States has experience in fighting terrorism.
“Fighting terrorism is not one nation’s issue. It requires a global effort. We all need to work together… to fight this evil.”
Buhari, who took office in May vowing to end the violence and on Wednesday met the US military’s Africa Command chief General David Rodriguez in Abuja, has spearheaded efforts for a new, five-nation fighting force against Boko Haram.
The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) was due to be deployed in late July but the deadline passed with no new date announced for it to start.
The US announcement comes after the Islamic State group-allied militants have increased attacks against civilians using suicide bombers in border areas of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Diplomatic relations between Abuja and Washington were strained under Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, over the United States’ refusal to sell weapons to Nigeria.
Buhari repeated those criticisms in July on a visit to the US capital, asserting the embargo — in place because of his military’s human rights record — was helping Boko Haram.
Washington last year provided intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance expertise to Nigeria in the hunt for more than 200 girls abducted from their school.
The assistance included drones and spy planes as well as up to 80 military personnel