• FG yet to get credible fact on Chibok girls’ location —Gowon
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari said on Tuesday, that the embezzlement of funds meant for equipping the armed forces under the last government, strengthened the Boko Haram and extended its activities in the North-East.
President Buhari, who was represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, made the remark at the launch of the Reviewed National Counter-Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST) in Abuja.
The action of those who embezzled the funds, he said led to the death of thousands of Nigerians and destruction of properties.
“Sadly because of the disgraceful deed and the wickedness of some in governance and in high office in the armed forces at the time, funds meant to equip soldiers to continue the fight against terror was embezzled. The incredible selfishness caused the nation of thousands of lives, extended the reign of terror and strengthened the enemy.
“In the past few years, our nation faced the threat of terrorism, characterised by mindless killing of our people, including children. The massacre of the Buni Yadi boys in their hostels at night, bombing of churches, mosques and market places, kidnap of the Chibok girls and many others.
“The sheer recklessness of the killings, the shootings and the executions were meant to terrorise and produce maximum fear. To further establish their reign of terror, the insurgents hoisted their terror flags in almost 27 local government areas in the North-East.”
He, however, noted that the present administration had committed itself to absolute defeat of terrorists.
He said “there must be an understanding, that the war against terrorism is a most unconventional one, the enemy is essentially an insane nuisance, because he revels in cowardly attacks, does not obey any rules of warfare, kills the defenseless, including prisoners, use children as human bombs and consider the killing of any one as a victory.
“And we must let them know, that neither Islam nor any other religion that we know endorses the slaughter of anyone and anyone who kills the innocent and shouts that God is great, either does not know the meaning of those words or is simply deranged.
“We must work hard to provide opportunities for these young men and women, who for years have lacked education and the real chance of doing-well; social investment programs, home grown school feeding, and vocational and technical education are designed to give them real opportunities.
“Today, as hundreds are being released from Boko Haram captivity, we are faced with serious problems of malnutrition in children, I have asked the vice-president to chair an inter-ministerial team to quickly review the situation and work with our development partners and overseas experts to handle this particular problem.
“I have repeatedly ordered our law enforcement agents to ensure that perpetrators of violence in any shape or form are arrested and made to face the law.
“The activities of armed herdsmen, cattle rustlers, kidnappers and criminal militants all threaten our peace, security and stability of our nation, we would not allow anyone under any guise, whether politics, culture or religion to violate the lives and properties of other citizens; this is the oath to which I swore and I would uphold it at all cost.
“Achieving success in combating the menace of terrorism is as we have said contingent on well-articulated strategy and effective counter-terrorism coordination with all stakeholders, knowing their roles and devoid of interagency rivalry,” he said.
Also speaking, the National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno, noted that his office, together with the active collaboration of all stakeholders, convened a working group of experts to rearticulate the roles of MDAs as tasked in the strategy.
“In so doing, we were guided by the fact that the ability of a nation to effectively respond to acts of terrorism depends on its capacity to be several steps ahead of the terrorist,” he said.
Meanwhile, former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, met in a closed session with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday, to discuss issues of national importance.
He told State House corespondents after the meeting that the Federal Government was yet to find any credible information on the location of Chibok schoolgirls still being held in the captivity by Boko Haram insurgents.
Speaking with the president on issues, including the fate of the girls and government’s effort to rescue them, he said the government needed to get credible information about the whereabouts of the girls and also on those that would assist the government achieve that.
According to him, “I believe that the government is certainly determined to ensure that a number of these girls are brought back home safely as soon as possible.
“To achieve that, certain credibility must be established of our sources on information on their location, but as of now, no one knows where these girls are.
“And all these information that you have been getting, I don’t know their sources, but all efforts at engaging the international media and sources are necessary so that this matter can be resolved once and for all.”
Gowon said he also discussed the economic situation of the country and Nigerians’ impatience because of apparent lack of results.
He said people were worried they were not seeing the result of the war against corruption, because culprits had not been successfully prosecuted.
His words: “And of course, we discussed the general affairs of the country, the problems of the country, his fight against corruption and all the efforts he is making to deal with it.
“And of course, the impatience of the public to see results of the fight which have yet to be found, since people have not been prosecuted yet. That would soon begin.
“These are some of the issues we talked about. One appreciates his efforts and determination to rid the country of corruption, which is one of the problems that have held the country down and had created serious setbacks for the country both nationally and internationally.”
He further stated: “Again, we talked generally on the country and efforts the government is making to give the people what they want.
“But please, remember we used to sell petroleum at $150 per barrel, but what is it today? It’s merely around $30 per barrel and the amount of crude oil, we used to produce over two million, now it has gone down to about one million because of the problem we have been having when people have been blowing pipelines in the Niger Delta area.
“So, we have problem and there isn’t enough money to be able to go round. So, very soon, with the efforts the government is making to get things back to normal, making contacts with the Avengers and other aggrieved militants in the Niger Delta, who are creating havoc there; we hope that all will be well soon.”
Gowon said he had also come to inform the president that he was on vacation and would be travelling out of the country.
Why we boycotted BBOG march —Chibok parents
Parents of the missing Chibok girls have explained why they did not join the protest march that took place on Tuesday in Abuja.
Leader of the missing girls’ parents, who lives in Chibok, Yakubu Nkeki, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a telephone interview that parents of the abducted girls based in Chibok held a meeting last week, during which they decided they would not attend.
“All we want is our missing daughters and we are willing to work with anybody who will help us find our daughters,” he said, explaining that they did not want to antagonise the government, which is in the best position to help them find their missing daughters.
“We do not want to do anything that the government will not be happy about,” said the women leader of the group, Yana Galang.
“We are not after any organisation that is against any party or religion, and we are supporting the Federal Government to help us release our girls,” she added.
The parents described the unpleasant experience they had during their last protest march in Abuja, when angry comments made by some of the activists who accompanied them to see the president irritated President Muhammadu Buhari to the point where he spoke sharply and dropped his microphone.
“Our own is that we want our daughters,” said Zannah Lawan, the secretary of the parents association.
“Anyone who has the ability to help us to find our daughters is the person we will work with,” he said.