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Nigeria Leadership Change Could Boost US Role in Boko Haram Fight

An online video posted this week purportedly shows Boko Haram fighters using the logo “Islamic State in West Africa.”

In the video, a militant accuses countries fighting Boko Haram of lying about the extent of their success in pushing back the group.

The video comes just days after newly inaugurated President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to make fighting Boko Haram a top priority, an issue that he discussed with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who attended the inauguration last Friday.

It is that change in leadership last week that analysts say could breathe new life into US. efforts to assist the country in fighting Boko Haram, by giving the countries a chance to reset relations that had become strained under former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham said it is important that the U.S. not allow tensions with the previous government to fester.

Intelligence, logistics

“I expect very quickly for the U.S. to move on some low-hanging fruit, the sending of advisers to assist with intelligence and logistics, for example," Pham said.

He said Nigeria is not a poor country, in spite of its current economic problems.

Nigeria “is not looking for a handout, but it is looking for the ability to purchase sufficient platforms and other equipment to deal with the challenges they face," Pham said.

Africa analyst Mohammed Rahim, who spoke on VOA’s “Africa 54” program, said the U.S. and other world powers also should focus on helping communities directly impacted by Boko Haram's kidnappings and attacks.

“Technical assistance can really do a major – can assist tremendously in these communities," Rahim said.

In a briefing, a senior State Department official said the U.S. hopes to do more to help Nigeria fight Boko Haram, including training a battalion later this year.