Thursday, 24 September 2015

Is a Buhari doctrine emerging?

Despite the lengthy delays in forming a cabinet, President Muhammadu Buhari has been much quicker to appoint his top military and security officers and to push ahead with a series of bilateral and multilateral summits. Not only did he chair the regional leaders' meeting to tackle the Burkina Faso coup, having unequivocally condemned it five days earlier, he has agreed on the agenda for a new regional security conference with French President François Hollande. The plan for this meeting, aimed at strengthening military coordination and sharing intelligence about Boko Haram's operations in Nigeria and its Francophone neighbours, was discussed during Buhari's trip to Paris on 14-16 September.

Flanked by his National Security Advisor, General Babagana Monguno, Buhari told French officials that Nigeria would be taking a far greater role in regional security. Buhari talks about the 'concentric circles' of Nigeria's foreign policy, which puts peace and security on its borders as the top priority.

France, traditionally wary of a militarily assertive Nigeria, now finds its forces overstretched in Africa as problems multiply in its operations in Mali and Central African Republic, so it wants to encourage Buhari. Several other governments, such as Kenya, South Africa, Britain and the United States, are also keen to discuss security matters with Buhari when he arrives in New York this week for the United Nations General Assembly meetings.