The All Progressives Congress (APC) has described as an unprecedented national embarrassment the increasing seizure of Nigerian towns by the terrorist group Boko Haram and the reported fleeing of 480 Nigerian soldiers to Cameroon during an attack on a military base in Gamboru-Ngala on Monday.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party called on President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently address Nigerians on the worsening security situation in the northern part of the country that has allowed Boko Haram to proclaim its rule over a part of the nation’s territory.
It said in the face of the biggest threat to Nigeria’s unity and territorial integrity since the country’s civil war, President Jonathan must also put partisanship aside and rally the nation against Boko Haram, which by all indications seems to be getting bolder and stronger, to such an extent that the group is now hoisting its flag over parts of the nation’s territory.
APC also restated its call for an urgent national stakeholders’ conference on security that will cut across party lines to help fashion a solution to what has now become a clear and present danger to the survival of Nigeria, while pledging its unalloyed support for any sincere effort by the Federal Government to end the insurgency as quickly as possible.
As an immediate first step, the party calls on President Jonathan to immediately halt the illegal electioneering campaign by his Ministers, other appointees and supporters, saying Nigeria must survive as a nation before any party or individual can rule over it.
”These campaigns, ostensibly by the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) but in truth being bankrolled by the Federal Government, offends national sensibilities at a time our citizens are being daily slaughtered and our troops are struggling against the terrorists who are bent on balkanizing our nation.
Needless to remind Nigerians that over 200 school girls remain missing more than 130 days after they were abducted,” the party said, adding: ”The President must put politics aside for now and lead the nation to defeat Boko Haram.”
It also charged the military high command and its civilian leadership to quit politicking and fashion out ways for the military to live up to its constitutional responsibility of maintaining Nigeria’s territorial integrity.
APC said it is a shame that while the Minister of State for Defence Musiliu Obanikoro has been prancing around in Ekiti and Osun state marshaling troops to harass the opposition during the elections in those states, Nigeria has been losing territory after territory to Boko Haram.
Equally worrisome, the party said, is the development that has seen some defence chiefs Chief become the chief campaign managers to President Jonathan, an action that is a clear violation of the military’s professional ethics and which has embroiled the military unnecessarily in politics, at a time they should be rallying the troops against Boko Haram.
”Nigeria has never had it so bad. The country’s military that was being hailed worldwide for its sterling performance at global peacekeeping missions has now reached a level where its troops are deserting, engaging in mutiny or simply unwilling to fight.
”There is no way to spin what happened on Monday, when 480 Nigerian soldiers escaped to Cameroon. The Ministry of Defence called it ‘tactical manoeuvre’, but did not explain how soldiers fighting insurgents along Nigeria’s border with Cameroon will foray 80 kilometres into Cameroon! Also, if the Nigerian troops’ foray into Cameroon was in the spirit of the cooperation between the two countries in the fight against the terrorists, as some spin doctors have said, why were the Nigerian soldiers disarmed and then herded into schools in Maroua, 80kms from the Nigerian border?
”The issue that should agitate the minds of Nigerians now is whether our troops are adequately equipped to battle Boko Haram and, if not, what has happened to the funds allocated for such in the past. As we said in our earlier comments on this issue, between 2010 and 2014, a total of US$14 billion was allocated for defence, security and the police. What has happened to these funds?
”Nigerians must start asking questions rather than just blaming soldiers. Nigerians must ask why the alarm raised by Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno concerning the low morale and lack of necessary fighting equipment by the military was dismissed on the altar of partisanship. Nigerians must ask what next, if a rag tag band of marauders are now carving out territories for themselves in our nation. Things cannot and must not continue like this,” APC said.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed