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Nigeria's President Hopes To Push Back Boko Haram In A Month

Speaking a week before he faces voters, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan says he hopes that all the territory in the country's north that has been seized by Boko Haram extremists can be "retaken in a month" after a string of victories for government troops.

"I'm very hopeful that it will not take us more than a month to recover the old territories," Jonathan told the BBC. "They are getting weaker and weaker by the day."

As NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports, Jonathan is facing sharp criticism for allowing Boko Haram to seize territory in the country's north, his failure to end the six-year insurgency, not stopping cross-border raids nor rescuing more than 200 missing schoolgirls, kidnapped last year by the Islamist extremists.

But backed by troops from neighboring Chad, Niger and Cameroon, the Nigerian military is now claiming significant recent successes, recapturing much of the zone Boko Haram once controlled, Ofeibea says.

As the BBC notes:

"The government has made similar claims in the past about defeating or driving back Boko Haram within a specific period — but these have not been borne out by events.

"The Nigerian insurgents this month pledged their allegiance to Islamic State militants, who control large parts of Syria and Iraq."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.