By Levinus Nwabughiogu
“How are the mighty fallen, for Nigerian military which recorded great achievements in Burma, Zaire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Sudan now to be helped by Niger, Chad and Cameroon”. These words sum up President Muhammadu Buhari’s lamentations, yesterday, on the state of the military he inherited as he hosted a delegation of Bring Back Our Girls led by Dr. Oby Ezekwesili and Mrs. Mariam Uwaise,
The delegation paid him a visit at the presidential Villa in furtherance of their campaign for the release of over 200 abducted Chibok girls from Borno State.
Responding to the 13-points demand by the group, President Buhari regretted what he described as the conflicting reports of the terrorist attacks, saying that the delayed response by the former government gave impetus to the escalated attacks and promised to rebuild the ravaged communities.
Said he: “It’s unfortunate that the security and federal government conflicting report initially presented the government and its agencies in a very bad light both nationally and internationally because the law enforcement agencies and the government were conflicting each other sometimes within hours or within weeks. That is not very impressive. The delayed and late reaction by former government and its agencies was very unfortunate as I said.
Our efforts to end insurgency
President Buhari who gave a detailed account of the efforts to end insurgency in Nigeria however assured the country that all hopes were not lost.
“I think you will agree that the present government take the issue very seriously. Within a week of being sworn in, I visited Niger, Chad and would have visited Cameroon but for the invitation of the G7 to go to Germany and listen to them. I’m very impressed with the leadership of this important group (G7) other than the United Nations itself. They are very concerned about the security in Nigeria led by abduction of the Chibok girls by the terrorists.
“When the terrorists announced their loyalty to ISIS, the whole attention again was brought squarely to Nigeria. And now we are rated with Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria , this is very unfortunate.
“After Ramadan, I will visit Cameroon to see the President there and then Benin Republic. But on the efforts we have been making, we will not disclose some of them publicly because it will not be consistent with security. But I assure you that under the Lake Chad Basin Commission, the military have met. The ministers of defence have met. We the presidents have met here in Abuja except the President of Cameroon who was represented by his Minister of Defence.
“Strategy and tactics have been drawn. Multinational taskforce has been put in place more or less with headquarters in Ndjamina with a Nigerian General as Commander. The troops delegated by each of the countries are to be put in place by the end of the month. And Nigeria, I assure you will do its best because we as I said are the battle ground and we are being helped by our neighbors”, he said.
The president also regretted that Nigerian army known for its military finesse in the sub African region has been unable to rout out the Boko haram in Nigeria.
“It is paradoxical what the Nigerian military has achieved from Burma to Zaire to Liberia to Sierra Leon to Sudan. But Nigeria has now to be helped by Niger, Chad, and Cameroon. How are the mighty fallen!
“We will do our best to restore the respectability of our country and its institutions. And with you, your steadfastness and your seriousness, we will do what we can do. We will accommodate all your observations including the negative ones about the performance of the government and its agencies”, he said
“At the G7, the leadership there asked us for our shopping list which I’m still compiling. The military has submitted theirs and I’m waiting for the governments of the front line states to submit theirs local government by local government in terms of infrastructure, schools, health care, roads, markets, churches, mosques and so on.”
In their 13-points demand, the group is asking among others that:
*The Federal Government should spare no resources in urgently rescuing our 219 Chibok Girls as promised by the President and the National Security Adviser of the President at various times. Our Federal Government has the constitutional duty to give justice to our Chibok Girls by ensuring their immediate rescue. The rescue of OUR Chibok Girls will amount to the strongest statement that our Government has respect for the “Sanctity and Dignity of Every Nigerian Life.
*An apology for the failure of governance that led to the abduction.
*An apology for the failure of governance that caused failure to rescue our girls for over 400 days.
*Strategies for curbing the emergence, and growth of curious sects.
*Immediately set up a structured feedback and communication system that is composed of the Federal and Borno State Governments through designated security and ministerial authorities, the parents of the abducted girls, the Chibok (KADA) community, and citizens, through the BringBackOurGirls group. The feedback mechanism is so the Parents and the public can have regular updates on efforts to rescue our 219 Chibok Girls.
The National Security Adviser, Leaders of the Counter Insurgency Task Force, the Department of State Security on one hand; and State Governments of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, aided and supported by Local Authorities and Traditional Leaders, on the other hand and the representatives of abduction victims on the other hand. The Team should be tasked with credible implementation of the VARS. The primary task of the Team shall be to work with every abducted victim’s family and community to accurately ascertain the true identity of such individuals and following their accurate identification to make available the comprehensive program for Recovery, Rehabilitation Resettlement and Reintegration to the rescued citizens. We advise that this system should be adopted for the 200 girls and 93 women rescued on the 28th April 2015.
The rehabilitation, resettlement and reintegration following their authentication should be implemented by both the Borno State Government and the Federal Government that make up the VARS Team and supported by development partners, NGOs and public-spirited Nigerians. Our movement, BringBackOurGirls, stands ready to support this initiative. Furthermore, grant access for BBOG to Chibok girls when rescued; thereby accepting our offer to support re-unification of rescued Chibok girls with their families as well as their rehabilitation and reintegration.