New Nigeria security chief wants dialogue

2012-06-29 11:52
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. (AFP)

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. (AFP)

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Kano - Nigeria's new national security advisor has called for dialogue to end an Islamist insurgency, during a visit to two north-eastern cities hard hit by the violence.

Sambo Dasuki, named to the post after President Goodluck Jonathan sacked his predecessor along with the defence minister on 22 June, visited Damaturu and Maiduguri on Thursday.

"If one considers the colossal loss these confrontations cause due to the unconventional methods of the insurgents, the option of resolution through dialogue and negotiation should be pursued as a priority," Dasuki said in Damaturu, according to local media.

"I do not see how anybody is benefiting out of this... President Goodluck Jonathan is committed to ensuring that peace and normalcy is restored before the onset of the Ramadan fast [in late July]."

He said Jonathan "has asked me to engage with all stakeholders and the government with a view to hearing from them on ways of addressing the security problems".

Jonathan's appointment of Dasuki marked a change in tactics in addressing the insurgency by Islamist group Boko Haram which has killed hundreds of people, with the violence concentrated in the country's mainly Muslim north.

The government's response to the insurgency in past months had included heavy-handed military raids, which had angered residents of hard-hit areas and failed to stop the extremists.

Dasuki is a retired colonel, prominent northerner and cousin to the Sultan of Sokoto, Nigeria's highest Muslim spiritual figure.

He is also a former aide to ex-military ruler Ibrahim Babangida, an influential northerner who challenged Jonathan for the ruling party nomination ahead of the 2011 presidential election before eventually dropping out of the race.

The fired national security advisor, Owoye Azazi, was a political ally of Jonathan's, with both men from Bayelsa state in the oil-producing south.

Azazi faced suspicion in the north, particularly after comments he made in April which many took as indicating that the violence was politically linked.

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