High-ranking U.S. government officials indicated Friday that America would be willing to offer military assistance to Nigeria in the fight against the Boko Haram militant group and its insurgency that has terrorized parts of the West African country since 2009, according to a new report. The news comes the same day Nigeria’s new president was sworn in.
A senior official at the U.S. Department of State who spoke to the New York Times on condition of anonymity hinted that action could be taken soon but was vague about the extent of American military intervention. “Something we can do quickly is to send advisers,” the official said. “It could be related to intelligence; it could be something very simple, related to things like logistics.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in Nigeria for Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration, would likely make a formal offer to Buhari Friday, when the two are expected to meet, the New York Times reported.
Between winning the election and taking office Friday, hundreds of women and children were rescued in April from Boko Haram’s stronghold in Sambisa Forest in the northern part of the country. While they were not the Chibok school girls who were abducted last year by the militant group, it was a sign that the Nigerian military has stepped up its efforts to combat Boko Haram.
U.S. President Obama has come under scrutiny in the past for not acting sooner. Earlier this month, Obama approved $35 million in military and defense assistance to France for its anti-Boko Haram support of three African countries that border Nigeria. None of those funds, however, were made available for Nigeria.