From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday declared that so long as Libya remains unstable, illegal arms and ammunition will continue to flow into the Sahel region of the continent.
The President made the remark while hosting a farewell audience the outgoing Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mohammed Ibn Chambas.
According to President Buhari, Muammar Gaddafi held a grip on power in Libya for 42 years by recruiting armed guards from different countries, who then escaped with their arms when the Libyan strongman was killed.
According to a statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, President Buhari said: ‘They didn’t learn any other skill than to shoot and kill. So, they are a problem all over the Sahel countries today,’ the President said, adding: ‘We closed our land borders here for more than a year, but arms and ammunition continued to flow illegally. As [long] as Libya remains unstable, so will the problem remain.
‘We have to cope with the problems of development, as we can’t play hop, step and jump. But we will eventually overcome those problems.’
President Buhari described Chambas, who spent many years in Nigeria in different capacities, from ECOWAS to UN, as ‘more of a Nigerian than anything else.’
He wished him well in his future endeavours.
The outgoing Special Representative thanked the President ‘for personal support I received from you, and from Nigeria as a country,’ adding that the country would continue to play a leadership role on the continent.
On terrorism and violent extremism in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin area, Chambas said Nigeria was playing a yeoman’s role, particularly in giving support to the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).