It’s a change of method in Nigeria. Three weeks after the kidnapping of the 110 schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe State, of which there is still no news, the presidency announced that it wanted to focus on negotiation and not force to release them.

This is a statement from the Nigerian presidency announcing this change of strategy. It relays remarks that the Nigerian head of state on Monday during the brief meeting he had with the former US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.

According to the text, Muhammadu Buhari stated that he chose to negotiate rather than release by force. To this end, he says he is working with “international organizations and negotiators” to ensure that Dapchi’s daughters are released alive.

When the 82 high school girls from Chibock were released in May 2017, the International Committee of the Red Cross served as an intermediary between the authorities and Boko Haram.

The discussions ended with an exchange of prisoners and, according to several security sources, the payment of a ransom which today creates controversy. But everything had been kept relatively secret.

This time, the Presidency is communicating and clearly displaying its strategy. This is a first in this kind of business sign that this kidnapping of girls and that more generally, the security issue is now a very political issue.

The presidential election is scheduled to take place in February 2019. Muhammadu Buhari has not declared whether he is a candidate for his own succession, but his agenda speaks volumes.

After the successive boondoggles in the Dapchi file, the head of state tries to catch up as soon as he can. He multiplies the declarations on the subject. The statement also confirmed that he will travel this week to Yobe State where the girls were kidnapped on 19 February.

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