By Ismail Auwal
The Niger Republic has announced a plan to recruit 5000 soldiers to help the army fight various Islamist militant groups.
According to observers, the plan demonstrates the seriousness of the military’s situation as it is 3000 more than the army’s usual annual intake.
The military stated that the recruitment of those aged 18 to 25 would take place in May.
The landlocked West African country is fighting Boko Haram fighters in the south, near its border with Nigeria, and militants linked to Islamic State groups and al-Qaeda in the west, near its borders with Mali and Burkina Faso.
The recruitment comes as France plans to withdraw its troops from neighbouring Mali – potentially leaving a vacuum – after nearly a decade in the fight against extremist groups in the Sahel region.
Niger President Bazoum Mohammed had hoped the French troops would be redeployed to his country, but that has yet to be agreed on.