BY Wole Mosadomi, JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU, Victoria Ojeme & CALEB AYANSINA
MINNA — EIGHTEEN governors under the aegis of Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum, yesterday, took a critical appraisal of the security situation in the country with the Boko Haram killing and maiming of innocent people almost on a daily basis in the North Eastern part of the country unchallenged.
They urged the Federal Government to change its tactics of fighting the insurgents.
PDP governors made the appeal on a day President Goodluck Jonathan and Senate President, David Mark called for prayers to overcome the nation’s security challenges.
The Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, on its part, announced that it had set up a new unit, the Border Patrol Corps, to patrol the nation’s land borders, especially in the North-East, to stem attacks by insurgents.
This was even as a Senator representing Borno Central Senatorial District claimed that over 100,000 residents of the district had been killed by Boko Haram.
The PDP Governors Forum, after its meeting in Minna, Niger State, yesterday, particularly condemned the recent killings of innocent students in Yobe State. The forum, therefore, urged the security agencies to change their tactics towards containing the insurgency.
Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum and Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, said though the forum appreciated efforts of the security agencies in containing the crisis so far, it held that there was the need for them to look more inward by changing their tactics in confronting the crisis.
He said: “The forum appreciates and commends efforts of the security agencies in fighting the insurgency but we urge them as a matter of urgency to change their tactics to get rid of these insurgents.”
The governors then symphatized with parents and families of the innocent children who were murdered in cold blood.
On national confab
Governor Akpabio, who read the communique shortly after the meeting, said the forum also commended the President on the bold step taken on the national conference coming up soon and urged delegates to the conference to put national interest above their personal desires.
The communique said: “This forum strongly identifies with our President on the forthcoming national conference and notes with satisfaction the zeal and enthusiasm shown by Nigerians in participating in the conference.
“We urge all delegates to the confab to put national interest above all other considerations during the deliberations.”
Governors of Jigawa, Katsina, Benue, Cross River, Abia, Bayelsa, Kogi, Bauchi, Kaduna, Gombe, Ebonyi and that of Niger, the host, were present while Sokoto, Taraba, Adamawa, Delta and Nasarawa were represented by their deputies.
Jonathan, Mark call for prayers
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan, weekend, expressed the Federal Government’s readiness to stop the acts of terrorism perpetrated by the Boko Haram sect in the North-Eastern part of the country.
The President, who stated this at the 2014 maiden edition of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, annual summit with the theme ‘Church and State Partnership in Providing Quality Education for the Nigerian People’ decried the deterioration of values and morals owing to poor educational policies.
Jonathan assured on government’s efforts to confront the challenge of insurgency in the country, while urging the gathering to pray for Nigeria to overcome her current problems.
He said: “I urge you to pray for our dear country to speedily overcome the current challenges we face, especially insurgency, terrorism and the heinous killings of innocent children in schools.”
Speaking further on terrorism and the wanton killing of students in Yobe State, President Jonathan said: “I believe that with your prayers and the strategies we have put in place, we shall surely surmount these challenges.”
Senate President, David Mark, in his remark, described the murder of the students as barbaric and condemned “the senseless and gruesome killings by so-called disgruntled elements. “That’s not the way to express grievances,” Mark said, adding that the act of killing students has no justification.
Onaiyekan bemoans socio-political crisis:
The Catholic Bishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, in his sermon bemoaned the growing socio-political crisis in the country, calling for concerted efforts to rid Nigeria of many of her troubles.
Onaiyekan maintained that “many are the evils in our land: socio-political, corruption in high places, widening economic inequality, insecurity of all kinds, misuse and perversion of religion,” noting that while the problems are numerous, “let us not be afraid to tackle the evil that overwhelm us. Despair and apathy only play into the hands of the evil.”
NIS sets up border patrol corps
In a related development, the Nigerian Immigration Service said it had set up a new unit to be known as the Border Patrol Corps, dedicated to patrolling the nation’s land borders, especially in the North-East, where the Federal Government recently announced the closure of its land border with Cameroun to stem insurgents attacks.
Comptroller General of Immigration Service, David Parrang, while speaking with newsmen, weekend, said additional 500 border control posts will be established within the year as part of measures to reduce the number of illegal entry points from the current figure of 1,400.
The CG noted that short of the Ethiopian model of complete fencing of its borders fitted with sensors, prevailing scarce resources was compelling the service to adopt more practical measures to conform with the current funding challenges.
On the new border patrol corps, he said: “We are designing a practical way of border patrolling. We went to the Minister of Interior and asked that we develop a Border Patrol Corps and he gave us permission to do so. We are about to launch that border patrol corps.
“We need to give that section specific training; we need to give them the border patrol gear that is the dress, the arms, the equipment to ensure they carry out their duties effectively.
“We are almost at the concluding stages of that process now. We are going to have the initial border patrol corps of about a thousand staff dedicated totally to border patrol, and after training we deploy them. We are not recruiting a thousand people for border patrolling; we are mopping them up from different units to be able to be part of the border patrol corps.”
The Immigration helmsman disclosed that, the border patrol corps would be deployed to additional control posts along the 1,400 illegal entry points, as part of measures to reduce the porosity of Nigerian land borders within the year.
We’ve lost over 100,000 people — Zannah
Also, Senator Ahmad Zannah Khalifa, representing Borno Central Senatorial District, has said the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State has claimed over a hundred thousand people of the state while about 20 local government areas were still under the control of the terrorists with the nation’s security helpless in the whole situation.
Zannah, who is also vice chairman, Senate Committee on Gas, in an interview in Abuja, however, said the insurgency could be completely eliminated if the Federal Government could recruit a good number of the youths as the civilian Joint Task Force and give them enough training within a short period.
He said: “I want them to engage our young men who are willing to die to save their people. Even now they follow the military into the bush sometimes with bathroom slippers, without any protective wear.
“If you give them 15 days training, 20 days training, 30 days training even just 1000 of them, even 500 of them, let them go together with the military, they will wipe out the Boko Haram within a month. I assure you that, I have confidence in my constituency, so let the government give us the benefit of doubt.
“This is what had happened in Sierra Leone. You know that the Sierra Leonean rebels were cutting the limb of our soldiers, killing our soldiers when we went to restore peace in that country, but by involving the locals, giving them arms they were able to defeat the terrorists within no time, something which the military could not solve in two years but when they involved the locals they were able to accomplish it.”