The National Security Adviser, Owoye Andrew Azazi, is telling Americans that the Boko Haram terror group currently sweeping through many of the North-eastern and North-central states of Nigeria poses greater challenge to them than they understand.
Azazi, who is a retired army intelligence general, says in an opinion article just published in the pro-Republican party Washington Times is seeking a strategic security relationship with Washington to defeat a threat he say though “emerging in our country is far larger and may be headed America’s way.”
Recalling the Boko Haram Christmas Day terror attack on churches in the country, Azazi believes “America is at risk for this type of violence” reminding them that “Two Christmases ago, a militant from my country – the infamous Underwear Bomber – tried to blow up an American jetliner over Detroit.”
He describes as mistaken, the views of “Many observers in the United States and Nigeria” who he said “dismissed Boko Haram as a tiny, weak, even incompetent terrorist group that, at best, was aimed only at destabilizing our democratically elected president.”
When in August last year, a Boko Haram suicide bomber attacked the United Nations building in Abuja, Mr. Azazi said the “terrorist group issued a statement to taunt not the president of Nigeria, but the president of the United States.”
The strategic goal of the Boko Haram sect, Mr. Azazi said, is to “spark a religious war” in the context of a global mission. He suggested that the Americans have not warmed up fully in their support of Nigeria but acknowledged the prompt message of solidarity message from the White House after the Christmas Bombing
Mr. Azazi’s concerns include an apparent absence of American state policy regarding terror in Nigeria. Despite a congressional recommendation in that direction, he wondered that “the bipartisan congressional recommendations have yet to become U.S. policy, even as the U.S. Africa Command has made clear its similar concerns” adding also that “The State Department, however, has yet to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization.
“There was no explicit mention of the problematic American sponsored African Military Command that has always been a deadlock between the two countries, but Mr. Azazi’s article hinted at its echoes on the horizon, and suggested a higher bargain space at the table.
“With recent developments reverberating across Africa, Nigeria is working out strategic partnerships with key players to track and neutralize extremists wherever they may be – before they become violent.” Adding: “We should not be seen merely as a tactical ally of convenience.”
Though Mr. Azazi claims, “Nigeria can defend its interests without U.S. support” he nevertheless pressed for increased American support for “programs that enhance the ability of Nigerian security forces to more effectively target Boko Haram and counter its evolution.”
Such a support, he remarked “will certainly assist Nigeria and West Africa as a whole, but it will also be a low-cost, high-impact way of eradicating Boko Haram – and others like it – as a threat to the United States as well.”