President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that the war against Boko Haram is a “must win” so that Nigeria can forge ahead in its quest for even development and national stability.
He said that the elimination of the insurgents from the face of the earth would not be compromised by his administration just as the safety and security of all Nigerians in any part of the country remains sacrosanct.
He stated this in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital yesterday when he opened the 2018 edition of the Chief of Army Staff annual conference.
The president expressed delight that the conference was well attended despite that the venue was moved from Benin City, Edo State to Maiduguri at a very short notice.
He said: “I can see that so many of the very senior officers in the Army, both serving and retired are here. In view of recent tragedies, I commend the decision of the leadership of the Nigerian Army in moving the venue of this conference to Maiduguri.
“The officers and soldiers who are fighting against terrorism in the North East deserve all the attention our country’s leadership can demonstrate to them. As President of the country, I am determined to ensure that every citizen feels safe and secure in all parts of the country. To achieve this, the security agencies must rise to the challenge and curb threats to security in our country.
“The Armed Forces play a critical role in safeguarding the country, hence you must all ensure that your plans and programmes meet the challenges we face. To this end, I am glad that this conference is holding at this time, because it serves as a platform to assess and evaluate your performance for the year 2018.
“One of the cardinal objectives of this government is security. In this regard, the Nigerian Army’s efforts have led to the dislodgement of insurgents from areas hitherto viewed as their strongholds, rescue of abducted persons, return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and the gradual return of normalcy in the North East,” he said
Buhari told the audience that the efforts of the military had also stabilised the security situation in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country as well as curtailed the clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
“I must commend the selfless sacrifices of our Armed Forces especially the heroic officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army who by virtue of their commitment to operations all over the country have brought about the desired peace,” the president added. He said that there has been a remarkable improvement in the security situation in the North East since 2015 when this administration came into government, stressing that the Nigerian Army remains a major part of the successes that have been achieved.
He acknowledged the recent operational losses in the northern part of Borno, particularly in Jilli, Arege and Metele.
Buhari cheered up the troops as he said that, “I know that you are doing your best to reverse this trend and I want to assure you that no effort will be spared in providing the necessary support you require to complete the task. We remain committed to ending the crisis in the North East and making the entire area safe for all. I urge you all to keep up the good work.”
To the officers and soldiers, who paid the supreme price during the attacks, Buhari said: “I am also painfully aware that some gallant officers and soldiers have paid the supreme price in the course of these anti-terrorists’ operations. While we remember them and mourn with their loved ones, I must also convey the deep gratitude of the government and people of Nigeria to the late soldiers and their families for their heroic sacrifices. Our thoughts and prayers are also with all other victims of Boko Haram atrocities and their families.
“I will be visiting some of our injured troops in hospitals and also talk to others at their bases to assure them of our continued support. It is a must win war, I want to encourage our troops not to be distracted by whatever speculations but to remain focused and committed to the task of eliminating Boko Haram from the face of earth,” he said.
The theme of the conference is “Optimising the Operational Efficiency of the Nigerian Army Towards Safeguarding Democracy and National Security in Nigeria.”
As the 2019 general elections, Buhari urged the armed forces to live up to their responsibilities and remain non-partisan. He charged them to remain vigilant throughout the electioneering period to prevent every form of violence that could disrupt the process in line with their “rules of engagement.”
The president commended the Army for the professional manner it worked with other security agencies to unmask those involved in the disappearance of the late Major General Idris Alkali.
He said the feat attests to the capabilities that “exist in our security apparatus. I want to assure you that the perpetrators will be brought to book. May his gentle soul and the souls of our departed gallant troops rest in perfect peace (Amin).”
Buhari told the participants that as they appraised their activities for the year 2018, they should concentrate on the contemporary security challenges facing the country and proffer ways of surmounting them.
Addressing the wounded troops at the Maimalari Cantonment Military Hospital, Buhari assured them of support and charged them to maintain their loyalty to the country because “no matter how equipped a soldier is, if he is not loyal and disciplined, noting can be achieved. If for any reason this country is not secured, you are losing your security.”
In his welcome address, the chief of army staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, said that the choice of Borno for the conference was borne out of the recent incident in the state and the need to encourage the troops and assure them of Nigerians’ support for their course.
He thanked Buhari for gracing the conference and his support in providing all that is necessary to execute the war against insurgency in the North East.
The Borno State governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, praised the president for finding time to visit the state.
He commiserated with the Army and the federal government over the recent loss of soldiers to Boko Haram attacks.
PMB Convenes Meeting Of Lake Chad Basin Heads Of State
Meanwhile, his capacity as the chairman of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), Buhari has convened a consultative meeting of the bloc’s leaders for N’Djamena, Chad.
The one-day crucial meeting holding today, will review the security situation in the member-countries, which are affected by Boko Haram insurgency and adopt measures to improve the capacity of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to meet the challenges of securing the region.
In a statement issued yesterday in Abuja on the meeting, the president’s special adviser on media and publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said that “the presidents of the LCBC member-countries of Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and the Central African Republic (CAR) have been invited to attend the meeting. The President of Benin Republic, a troops-contributing country, has also been invited to attend.
“The MNJTF and the national operations of the affected countries have appreciably degraded the capacity of Boko Haram terrorists, although the insurgents still retain the capacity to attack isolated targets in desperate search for supplies,” Adesina said.