President Muhammadu Buhari says remnants of Boko Haram in the North-East region of the country are bandits, “and we will continue to treat them as such.”
The President, according to a statement by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), spoke Tuesday at State House, Abuja, while receiving Mr Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
According to President Buhari, “Boko Haram has been degraded, but its members are still a nuisance around Lake Chad and surrounding islands. That is why we are cooperating with Chad, Cameroon, Niger Republic, and other countries. We are also using the Air Force quite effectively. They are bandits, and we will continue to treat them as such.”
The President said the government was concentrating on repairing damaged infrastructure, rehabilitation of internally displaced persons, securing their communities, so that they can return home.
He applauded the support of the ICRC and other humanitarian organizations, noting: “The situation of the displaced persons is very pathetic. Some children don’t know where their parents are, neither do they know where they come from.
“We are focusing on education and healthcare, along with rebuilding of infrastructure. The agency formerly under the leadership of Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd) and now headed by Major-General Paul Tarfa (retd) is quietly making an impression. We are dedicating lots of resources to the area.”
President Buhari disclosed that great progress has equally been made in disabusing the minds of people that the insurgency was religious.
“How can you kill people, and say ‘God is great.’ It’s either you don’t know that God, or you don’t know what you are talking about. God is God of justice. And the people have understood the message well, so recruiting is now difficult for the insurgents,” the President said.
Mr Maurer said Nigeria was the 5th largest operation of ICRC worldwide, and the organization would continue to render humanitarian action to people affected by violence.
On the recent killing of two officials in the North-East, he said: “We are shaken by the killing of our staff, but not discouraged. Humanitarian assistance should continue, and we applaud the hospitality of Nigeria.”
The ICRC President said relationship will be further strengthened with Nigeria, submitting that “the more we see activity from Nigerian authorities, the easier it is for us to add here and there.”
President Buhari at another meeting, decried what he calls the “undue politicization” of the security situation in the country.
Speaking Tuesday while receiving promoters of the proposed African Security Leadership Summit at State House, Abuja, the President said no matter how much the revisionists try to distort history, “the records show where we were in terms of security in 2015, where we are now, and we also know where we want to be.”
President Buhari said the relative successes of the administration since 2015 are clear, “and what remains in areas of security are also clear, despite the politicization.”
He lauded the plan to convene a high-powered security summit that will bring together some of the leaders on the African continent, defence attaches, embassies and High Commissions, leadership of the defence community in the country, and many others.
Speaking directly to the chairman of the security summit initiative, His Royal Highness, Major-General Abdullahi Bagudu Mamman, (retd), President Buhari said:
“I am glad that you are well experienced, and know the implications of this high-powered conference. It will be a great test for you and members of your committee. You will be dealing with professionals in security, defence and diplomacy. We will do our best to support you.”
Major-General Mamman (retd), now a traditional ruler, led a team under the auspices of Global Initiative for Leadership Success (GILS), which is organizing the security summit.
He said: “We share in the conviction of the administration to address the problems of the country. At assumption of office in 2015, parts of the country had been acquired by Boko Haram insurgents. Your seriousness and committed efforts have made us to now be able to worship in peace. Boko Haram has been truly degraded, and other forms of criminalities are being addressed.”
The royal father added that the summit, to hold possibly sometime in October, is being convoked “to involve the entire security architecture in Nigeria, and it will be under the theme, ‘Sustaining the Security Renaissance of Nigeria.’
The event will also feature honours and awards for those who have excelled in the area of security, “because we need to reward the commitment of our heroes.”
An endowment fund will also be launched to cater for families of those who pay the supreme price, and to care for those permanently maimed.