By Henry Umoru, CHARLES KUMOLU & GBENGA OKE
ABUJA‑ THE Presidency yesterday tongue-lashed the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) for asking President Goodluck Jonathan to forget about contesting in 2015 if by October, he fails to produce the Chibok secondary school students kidnapped by the Boko Haram sect in April. The presidency said Jonathan does not require any threat or ultimatum from the north or any group of persons for him to perform his job.
The Northern Elders Forum had in a statement signed by Mr Solomon Dalung and Dr. Hakeem Baba‑Ahmed on Monday said that the North does not believe that the Nigerian military cannot defeat the terrorists, and that it feels the conflicts in the country were deliberately being prolonged simply to weaken the North politically and economically
Reacting yesterday in a statement, the Senior Special Assistant to the president on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said irrespective of threats, the president will remain focused and alive to his responsibilities in delivering the dividends of democracy to the People of Nigeria.
Jonathan Dose Not Require Threat
He argued that the “suggestion that the Government is carrying out any scheme to annihilate any section of the country for political gain is preposterous, contrary to common sense, divisive and essentially a deliberate attempt to disseminate “hate mentality” and cause mischief”.
According to the statement, “We wish to state categorically that President Jonathan does not require any threat or ultimatum from any group of persons to be alive to his responsibilities to the Nigerian People.
“The issue of Insurgency especially those ideologically based on Islamic extremism is a global phenomenon and requires tact, military capability, serious de‑radicalisation techniques and community based counter insurgency programmes to ensure success.
FG Making Progress
“In these areas, the Federal Government is making progress. We are improving on our operational capabilities and efficiencies by acquiring more advanced weapons and technologies for our military and security agencies. We have drafted more military personnel to the region to strengthen the fighting power of our armed forces. We are taking advantage of the offers from our international military and intelligence allies to assist in identifying key locations.
“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.
“With all these efforts and the support of our allies, these steps will help fight the threat of the Boko haram and move us closer to bringing the girls back safely.
“President Goodluck Jonathan was voted for by an overwhelming majority of Nigerians across the board, and he will never promote any policy that is either divisive or inimical to the wellbeing of any section of the polity.
Prsident Is Focused
“What the country needs today is total co‑operation, of all its citizens and stakeholders, with the Government and our military and the security agencies.
“We wish to assure Nigerians that in spite of this and many more distractions, the President is focused on continued successful executions of his transformation Agenda; and the guarantee of the security of lives and properties of the Nigerian people.”
Jonathan Should Not Be Giving Condition – Babatope
Commenting on the ultimatum given to President Jonathan by the Northern elders, a former Minister of Transport, Chief Ebenezer Babatope said: ”I wish them luck in their postulations but I must say that such moves will not stand the test of time. They are just hallucinating and as Nigerians, we need to understand that the abduction of these girls should not be politicised and Mr President should not be given a condition. I must say that Mr President is not a magician to know exactly where the girls are but I believe he is working assiduously to get those girls. But for some Northern leaders to start giving conditions, such will not stand the test of time.”
In his own submission, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party ,PDP, Senator Aniete Okon argued that the statement credited to the Northern Elders has further confirmed their complicity in the Boko Haram insurgency.
He said, ”I must say this is a manifestation of their complicity in the insecurity problem that is ravaging this country and this has further shown the desperation and frustration of the North in trying to frustrate the efforts of Mr President in finding the Chibok Girls. We have always suspected their complicity in this insecurity since inception and the statement has further shown the whole world that the Boko Haram menace is part of their plan to ground the government of President Goodluck Jonathan”, he said.
OPC Berates NEF
In his own reaction, founder of the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, berated the NEF over the ultimatum saying “have they confirmed that Jonathan stole the girls? They should give themselves the ultimatum because they are responsible for the fate of those girls”.
Also, a group under the aegis, Igbo Redemption Group, described the ultimatum by the Northern Elders Forum, NEF as unreasonable, unpatriotic, divisive and unfortunate, noting that the position of the north was a final confirmation that the kidnap of the Chibok girls and indeed the escalation of terrorist activities in the north was an insider’s job.
Interim President of Igbo Redemption Group, Delly Ajufo at a press conference alleged that the move by the north to sponsor Boko Haram was among others, designed to prevent President Jonathan from exercising his constitutional right of seeking a second term in office as President of the country.
The group called on genuine leaders, traditional rulers, political and business leaders as well as patriotic Nigerians to rise up in condemnation of those it called desperate parasitic politicians who do not mean well for either the North or Nigeria as a whole.
Govt not Serious About rescuing the Girls – Tsav
Former Lagos State Police Commissioner, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav however said: ”the order given to Jonathan is very good because if Jonathan can not provide security which is the primary function of government, he has no business being in office. These girls were abducted three months ago and nothing concrete has been done to rescue them. One of the Chibok girls in a recent interview said that from what the President said during their visit to the Villa, it was obvious that he is not serious about bringing back the girls. She said that they don’t want money but the release of the girls. If a little girl could make such observation, then it is an indication that the government is not serious about rescuing the girls”.