Posted by News Express | 4 November 2014 | 4,691 times
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday painted a gloomy picture of the insurgency in the Northeast, warning that Nigerians might wake up to discover that the Boko Haram sect had overrun the country.
He chided the Federal Government for its handling of the sect, saying it failed to do its constitutional duty of protecting Nigerians.
Atiku, an All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential aspirant, expressed shock that Boko Haram is controlling 16 local government areas across three states – Borno, Yobe and his home state Adamawa.
Atiku spoke at a news conference in Abuja.
He expressed concern that the country had been unable to confront the horrendous situation, pointing out that Nigerians are increasingly suspecting that the seeming inability of the government to end the crisis is a ploy to weaken some parts of the country ahead of the 2015 elections.
Flanked by Senator Danjuma Goje, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Senator Jibrilla Bindow, Senator Zanna and Senator Aisha, he said: “You can see that the situation in the country calls for leadership. Leadership on the part of our political leaders, leadership on the part of our armed forces.
“The way they easily overran states suggest that they can overrun the whole of this country within a few months. So nobody should feel safe elsewhere. A crisis in any part of this country is a crisis that affects all of us. Even a crisis in other parts of the world sometimes affects the entire world. I really call on government and all Nigerians to ensure that this situation is not allowed to get worse.”
Expressing concern about the situation in the Northeast, he said “Honestly, I don’t know what inform decisions taken, but I don’t think that the approach to dealing with this situation is the right one.
“One, the response is very poor; secondly, they don’t make use of the local people to deal with the situation and, thirdly, people have alleged that the armed forces are poorly equipped. But five years is more than enough to equip the entire military.”
He explained that the insurgents are occupying 16 local government areas in the three states.
Said Atiku: “In Yobe, only two local government areas are being occupied by Boko Haram, five in Adamawa and nine in Borno, but you can say that the entire states are not safe.
“There has never been a time the Nigeria military has retaken any area occupied. Can you imagine that a country like Nigeria with one of the best armed forces, cannot recover one single territory from the terrorists?
“How can you now convince me that this government has the capacity to recover an inch if in the last five years, they have not recovered one inch of lost territory? So we are calling on them to be very serious, stand up to their fundamental responsibility of protecting the people of this country. Otherwise, the whole of this country can be overran.”
The former Vice President also faulted the government for “not telling us what we should know.” At the beginning when these Chibok girls were kidnapped, it took the government a while to admit that the girls were actually kidnapped, Atiku said.
His words: “It was when it became an international issue that the government came out to admit that those girls were actually kidnapped. Many countries offered international assistance and support.
“But we did not hear anything from our government about how far they were working with those international partners to rescue these girls. They don’t have regular reports. I am not in government, but as a Nigerian, I believe that I am supposed to know what my government is doing to rescue those girls.
“It is a primary responsibility of any government to protect its citizens. But this is a government which has allowed a bunch of small terrorist group to operate freely for close to five years now. We fought a 30-month civil war and achieved total unification and reconciliation. When the war started, it started as a police action.
“But this is an insurgency that has lasted for five years. I recall that when we in office, such an insurgency arose and it took us just a few weeks to flush out those insurgents.
“Those who did not surrender faced the music of the armed forces. In fact, people did not even know about this. But here we are with Africa’s so called best military.”
On what he would have done separately to address the situation, he said: “I would have used a large number of the fighting force to come from that area where the insurgency is because they know the terrain better than any other Nigerian you can think of.
“If you recall, during the civil war, when we had problem dealing with the riverine areas, we had to establish a world brigade of Marine Commandos, trained them to be able to deal with the riverine areas and it became very successful.
“A few weeks ago, I said that if I were in government, I would have recruited the civilian JTF, train them for three months and use them to flush out the terrorists. Two or three days later, the Defence Headquarters said they were going to hire them and train them as soldiers. Did it require me, a civilian, to tell the defense headquarters what to do?
“You know that if you are fighting in a terrain that you don’t know very well you need local support. Why not make use of the local support? Most of the boys overrunning the places are from the same area.
“Those who come from Mubi tell me that these boys were part of them and were recruited by Boko Haram. Why can’t the military not do the same? Why will you bring somebody from Bayelsa to come and fight a war in Adamawa or Borno state when he has never seen a mountain in Bayelsa?”
The former Vice President urged the international community to help the nation in dealing with the insurgency, saying: “I am making a special appeal to countries with sufficient knowhow and experience in tackling terrorism to increase their assistance to us.
•Source: THE NATION. Photo shows Atiku.
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