THE Nigerian Air Force has conducted 1,488 airstrikes in the past two months in the northeast of the country to meet President Muhammadu Buhari’s deadline to defeat the Boko Haram insurgency.
“From what we have seen, it is possible to meet this deadline, and we are working towards meeting that December deadline,” Chief of Air Staff Sadiq Baba Abubakar told reporters in the town of Maiduguri on Thursday.
Boko Haram militants, seeking to impose their version of Islamic law on Africa’s most populous country of about 180 million people, have stepped up suicide attacks since President Buhari ordered a military offensive to defeat the insurgents by the end of the year.
The group has killed tens of thousands of people since it began its campaign of violence in 2009.
Meanwhile in the capital Abuja, Nigeria’s Senate approved the final list of 18 cabinet nominees submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, bringing to 36 the total number considered fit to be ministers.
Senate President Bukola Saraki read out the names, which the lawmakers approved by voice vote, enabling Buhari to set up his cabinet five months after he took office. Buhari’s cabinet list to lawmakers didn’t say which ministries nominees will head.
Buhari, 72, has been criticised by opposition figures and some analysts for being slow to name his cabinet or articulate economic policies since his victory over Goodluck Jonathan in March elections that ushered in the first democratic transfer of power from one party to another in Africa’s largest economy.
Nominees confirmed include Kemi Adeosun, tipped by some analysts to be the finance minister; Emmanuel Kachikwu, head of the state oil company; Babatunde Fashola, a former governor of Lagos, the country’s commercial capital; and Kayode Fayemi, a former governor of Ekiti state and a key policy figure in Buhari’s All Progressive Congress (APC) party.
Buhari’s economic team will need to restore confidence in Africa’s largest crude producer in the face of low oil prices that has put pressure on public finances, slowing economic growth and attacks by Boko Haram militants. Without a finance minister, the central bank has imposed currency restrictions to conserve the country’s declining reserves.