N/East crisis: Buhari not sleeping on duty — Presidency

•Blames community leaders for continued violence

THE Presidency has rejected the assertion that President Muhammadu Buhari is sleeping on duty, made by the Catholic Bishop of Yola Diocese, Right Reverend Father Stephen Mamza, over the conditions in the insurgency-ravaged North-East.

In a statement in Abuja on Monday, it maintained that the region was better off than it had been under previous administrations.

Signed by Garba Shehu,  Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity), the statement accused the cleric of breaking the tradition of staying above politics.

According to the Presidency, Bishop Mamza had made the remark during a homily “in which he spoke angrily against President Muhammadu Buhari, whom he described as sleeping on duty as commander-in-chief.”

It said “there is so much that has changed in the past three to four years in and around Yola, and the Catholic Church in particular that a true assessment would show that but for the administration of President Buhari, things would have continued the way they were, or even get worse. These could not have happened if a commander-in-chief was asleep.

“Bishop Mamza was, and is still a strong member of the Adamawa Peace Initiative (API), composed of religious and community leaders which did the lovely work of housing and feeding 400,000 displaced people from Northern Adamawa and Borno states in 2015. The API also did the extraordinary work of easing tensions between Muslims and Christians during that period and ensured that both groups did not turn on one another based on suspicion.

“As widely reported by the local and international press, in the premises of St. Theresa’s Cathedral where Reverend Mamza ministered, there were more than 1,500 IDPs, mostly women and children on whom the church administered food rations and issued bags of maize, cooking oil and seasoning. We are truly touched and very grateful for the work that the Bishop and the others had done in that difficult period.

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“Now that Boko Haram has been degraded, the more than 400,000 displaced people absorbed by the Adamawa community have all gone back to Borno State and to those council areas in northern Adamawa.

“In addition to the capital,Yola, the towns of Michika, Madagali and Mubi which had been occupied by Boko Haram during their military advances have since been retaken by the Nigerian military, whose personnel are also clearing litters of Boko Haram’s carnage and are, through the support of the administration as well as local and international partners, rebuilding roads and bridges, power lines, burnt schools, markets, destroyed churches and mosques.

“Without an iota of doubt, the North-East is better off with President Buhari than it was under the previous administration. That should explain the massive turnout of voters in the region, in spite of threats to life and property, to vote for the return of the president for a second term of four years.”

The Presidency blamed the continued violence in parts of the country on what it said was the refusal of community leaders to report criminals to law enforcement agents.

“This senseless violence can never be condoned by the administration and we sympathise with the families of those who lost loved ones as well as those injured. The administration’s intense security efforts and peace-building will not only continue, but will expand in response to such explosions of violence in the country,” the statement added.