Chibok Girls: Presidency Replies Northern Elders

Chibok Girls: Presidency Replies Northern Elders
August 13 02:57 2014 Print This Article

…..Describes Threat As Unpatriotic, Irresponsible

The Presidency has described as unpatriotic and irresponsible, the ultimatum by the Northern Elders Forum to President Goodluck Jonathan not to declare interest in 2015 elections if Chibok girls abducted on April 14th are not back by October.

It further described as self-delusion, anybody or group pretending to give the President an ultimatum.

Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, in his reaction told newsmen that nobody was in a position to give the President an ultimatum.

He said if the Northern elders were to be patriotic, they would be supporting the Federal Government to end insurgency, describing their position as one that can cause disaffection and division.

Abati said the elders were misguided, misadvised and irresponsible in their contribution.

He said, “Nobody is in a position to give the President of Nigeria an ultimatum. For anybody to pretend that they can give the President and the federal government of Nigeria ultimatum, such persons are engaging in a game of self delusion.

“Beyond that, the kind of statements they make are incorrect because it is very clear even to the blind, the deaf and the dumb that this administration has made the fight against insurgency and terrorism a high priority level engagement for the government.

“President Jonathan has personally ensured that the war against terrorism is topmost on the international agenda and that Boko Haram has become the focus of international outreach against any form of terrorism, evil acts, assault on our common humanity and civilisation. He has mobilised concerted international action.

“He has deployed resources at the disposal of the Nigerian government and also within the sub-region to combat.

“For him, the sanctity of human lives is what is important. And he has said it again and again that this government will leave no stone unturned, this government will stop at nothing and will do everything within its powers to ensure that the will of the insurgence does not prevail.

“If the Northern Elders Forum were to be a patriotic group, they would be expressing support as members of the National Assembly have done again and again and as other enlightened groups in this society have done again and again.

“For Mr. President’s efforts to bring the nightmare of terrorism to an end, if the members of the elders forum were to be patriotic, they would be carrying the flag against Boko Haram, they would be directing their frustration at terrorists and they would be speaking with one voice to say terror is unacceptable, to say that terror is evil, they would be saying that they as ‘elders’ are prepared to support the effort of government at all levels to ensure that terrorists, both at the government level and at the community level are brought to their knees and that the affected parts of the country are made safe for everybody.

“But they are not patriotic. Hence, they have opted for a position that can cause disaffection, a position that can cause division, a position that flies in the face of the truth. They are not in a position to accuse this government of incompetence and it is not true that there is deep-seated corruption.

“If there is anything, President Jonathan has been combating corruption, has strengthened the institutions to make corruption difficult and to, over a long time, eradicate corruption. He has placed much greater emphasis on efficiency and service delivery.

“So, I think that the Northern Elders Forum is misguided, is mis-advised and I dare add that that statement, if indeed is a statement that emanated as a group position rather than the wild imagining of two persons, then I will add that it was an irresponsible contribution.”

In the same vein, President Jonathan has said that no group can threaten him before he will perform his official duties.

He said it was wrong for any group to issue a threat asking him to rescue Chibok schoolgirls before he could get the support of any person or group for his 2015 presidential ambition.

President Jonathan, who spoke through his Senior Special Assistant to the President, Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said he was already working on how to rescue the abducted girls.

Okupe, in the statement in Abuja on Tuesday, was responding to a threat by the members of the Northern Elders Forum on Monday, where they issued October deadline for the condition to be met.

The NEF position was made known through two of its members, Solomon Dalung and Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed.

The northern elders were of the opinion that the military can defeat the Boko Haram terrorists – if, indeed, the government wants to subdue the sect.

They said, “We are convinced that most of these conflicts are being engineered to weaken the North politically and economically by interests, which intend to exploit such weaknesses for electoral benefits.

“In the light of our firm conviction that the insurgency and related security challenges pose threats to the 2015 elections and the survival of our nation, we strongly advise President Goodluck Jonathan to bring an end to the insurgency in all its manifestations and produce the Chibok girls before the end of October, 2014.

“The circumstances under which our fellow citizens in and around Gwoza in Borno State in particular live and die will not be tolerated by any people who have a government and a leader sworn to defend them, and they must be reversed immediately”.

Okupe, while faulting the northern elders, said “President Jonathan does not require any threat or ultimatum from any group of persons to be alive to his responsibilities to the Nigerian People”.

He added that the issue of insurgency, especially those ideologically based on Islamic extremism was a global phenomenon, which he said required tact, military capability, serious de-radicalisation techniques and community based counter insurgency programmes to ensure success.

In these areas, he said the Federal Government was making progress.

He said the military and other security agencies were improving on operational capabilities and efficiencies by acquiring more advanced weapons and technologies.

Apart from this, he said the government had also drafted more military personnel to the region to strengthen its fighting power.

Okupe added that the government was equally taking advantage of the offers from international military and intelligence allies to assist in identifying key locations.

He said, “We are working with our neighbours to secure the borders and limit the movements of the Boko Haram fighters, building on the agreements reached at the recent summits in Paris and London.

“We are deploying more resources to maximize operational efficiency, acquire more advanced and relevant weaponry and boost the general morale of our combatants. This is why the Government recently requested for an additional funding of $1bn.

“And the last piece in the puzzle is targeting the domestic and international funding, and stopping the money flows into the coffers of the terrorists”.

On the suggestion that the government was carrying out plans aimed at scheming to annihilate any section of the country for political gain, Okupe said such accusation was “preposterous, contrary to common sense, divisive and essentially a deliberate attempt to disseminate ‘hate mentality’ and cause mischief”.

He said President Jonathan was voted for by an overwhelming majority of Nigerians across the board, and that he will never promote any policy that is either divisive or inimical to the wellbeing of any section of the polity.

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