• Gov Zulum insists Military must change tactics

BY OUR CORRESPONDENT – An apparent move by the Federal Government to change strategies in addressing its seeming helplessness against insurgency in the country came from President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday with his passionate plea that Community leaders must cooperate with political leaders to end the Boko Haram menace.

However, in what also appears a mild indictment of community leaders in the North East region, the President maintained that Boko Haram can not survive this long without the knowledge of leaders at the grassroots levels.

According to him; “This Boko Haram or whatever they are, cannot come up to Maiduguri or environs without the local leadership knowing. Because traditionally, the local leadership is in charge of security in their areas. So, with my understanding of our culture, I wonder how Boko Haram survives up to this end.”

The President, who spoke during a condolence visit to Maiduguri on his way from Ethiopia after attending the African Union Summit, wondered why the Boko Haram crisis had lasted for so long.

Following the February 9, 2020 attack on Auno community where no fewer than 30 travellers were burnt to death in a Boko Haram attack, President Buhari said during his visit to the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn-Garbai, that If the Community leaders do not “cooperate with the government, they are endangering their future. I am already 77, how many years do I expect to live under normal circumstances.”.

The President said he was working day and night with various security agencies to tackle insecurity in the country, adding; “We are working for you in this country. As Commander in Chief, I am dealing with the security institutions and I believe there is an improvement in security. I urge the people of the state to cooperate with the law enforcement agencies and let us deny Boko Haram access to our loyal citizens and encourage displaced people to go back to the land.”

“I assure you that improvement in security will be pursued vigorously. The military will work harder and strategise with tactics to deal with the insurgents. This is however not possible without good intelligence and cooperation with local community leaders.

“I want to call on the leadership at various levels to cooperate with law enforcement agencies and let us deny Boko Haram access to our loyal citizens,” he said.

Hoping that in doing his for the country, history will be kind to him and the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration, President Buhari said; “As Commander in Chief, I campaign both in 2015 and last year on three fundamental issues, which include Security; you cannot properly preside over an institution or a country if it is not properly secured. Everybody knows this. Even those who didn’t go to school. This is just common sense.

“Secondly, the economy, we have young, aggressive youth, the Nigerian youths constitute 60 per cent of our population with the average age of below 30 years. So we have to remind them that they must help us to stabilise this country so that they can have a better future and for our grandchildren.”

On the economy, President Buhari said his administration has recoded successes and saved millions of dollars through agriculture which has enhanced livelihood of farmers, improved food security, adding that conscious efforts are also being made to address smuggling activities in the borders.

In his speech, Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, who received the President at the Maiduguri airport, demanded an urgent change of strategies by the military, especially in taking the war to the enclaves of Boko Haram instead of being on the defensive.

He also urged them to bridge the existing trust gap between the Military and the local communities in order to overcome challenges of the insurgency war.

“Let me first and foremost welcome Mr. President to Maiduguri, mainly for the purpose of sympathizing with us for the irreparable losses to the people as a result of insurgents’ attack on Borno State.

”We also appreciate Mr. President for associating with us at this very trying moment. I am so surprised that we are forgetting the past. Some are trying to compare the security situation in Borno state prior to 2015 and the current situation. Hitherto, all the roads to Maiduguri were closed, inaccessible with the exception of Kano/Maiduguri road. There were sporadic bombings and killings even within the metropolitan city. Close to about 20 local government areas were displaced. I am pleased to announce to this gathering that there is serious reduction in the bombings that were happening in Maiduguri and other communities.

”More so, close to about 20 communities have been resettled. In the year 2017/2018, we have almost celebrated the demise of Boko Haram insurgency. But between March 2019 to date, we have started witnessing horrific and spontaneous attacks of insurgents which resulted in the loss of lives and property of our people.

”Mr. President, we are calling on the military to retrace their steps and borrow a leaf from the success they recorded from 2016/2017 with a view to ending the insurgency by taking the war to the enclave of the insurgents on the fringes of Lake Chad, in the Sambisa Games Reserve and some notable areas. Secondly, we also want the military to foster greater unity between themselves and the civilian authorities with the view to a closing the existing trust deficit between the military and the civil authority on ground.”

Calling on the Federal government as well as the military to assist Internally Displace Persons (IDPs) in having access to their farmlands, their livestock-farming and aqua-culture farming, the Governor said such opportunity would enable the people have sustainable means of livelihood.

Obviously reacting to the seeming hostile atmosphere that trailed the President’s visit, Governor Zulum pleaded; ”I am calling upon all the citizens of Borno State to be patient, to be law abiding and not to forget the past.”

On his part, the Shehu of Borno said the people are grateful to the efforts of the president in the restoration of peace to Borno State.

On the President’s entourage were Governors Hope Uzodinma (Imo) and Ben Ayade (Cross River) as well as some ministers. President Buhari later had a close door meeting with Governor Zulum at the Government House Maiduguri which lasted for almost one hour before departing the State for Abuja.


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