177 views | Akanimo Sampson | December 25, 2020
President Muhammadu Buhari is literally begging Nigerians who are disenchanted with his administration to use this season of goodwill and joy to renew their faith in the ability of the administration to make a lasting difference in their lives.
He made the plea on Thursday in his message to the country on the occasion of this year’s Christmas celebrations.
The plea is coming as Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and Middle Belt Forum (MBF) are expressing anger over the claim by President Buhari that peace and stability have been restored in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, the worse hit states by the Boko Haram terror.
Coalition of Northern Groups is also describing Buhari’s claim as uncouth lies, adding that Nigerians had lost confidence in Buhari and his men to tell the truth.
Buhari had on Thursday commended the country’s security forces, claiming they succeeded in restoring stability in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
Senior Special Assistant to the President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, quotes his principal as speaking at the induction and inauguration of newly acquired NAF MI-171E helicopter, two reactivated Alpha Jets and one L39ZA aircraft, all belonging to the Nigerian Air Force.
Shehu further quotes him as commending the security forces for successes recorded so far especially by restoring “some level of stability not only in Borno and Yobe states but also in Adamawa State’’, noting that his administration has boosted the capacity of the Nigerian Air Force by 23 brand new aircraft in recent times with more still on the way.
“These 23 new aircraft are aside the 15 additional aircraft, including 12 Super Tucano aircraft from the United States of America and 3 JF-17 Thunder Multi-Role Fighter aircraft from Pakistan that have been procured and will soon be delivered”, Buhari says, pointing out that he has released two Agusta 101 helicopters from the Presidential Air Fleet to the Nigerian Air Force to improve its tactical lift capability.
National President of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr Bitrus Porgu, in his reaction asked Buhari where and how he achieved the stability in the affected areas, claiming that the reality on the ground in Borno with regard to security situation was at variance with Buhari’s position.
The Middle Belt leader recounted many incidents of killings, abductions and attacks by Boko Haram, which occurred in Borno communities in recent times, including Chibok, Michika, Gwoza, Askira, Maiduguri-Damaturu road, among others.
Porgu says, “Boko Haram has been killing people in these areas nearly every day. Up till now, many people in Gwoza and Michika, who ran for their safety to Cameroun, have yet to return to their ancestral homes due to the presence of Boko Haram.”
National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, notes with shock what the President meant by saying the Nigerian security agencies had stabilised Bornu, Adamawa and Yobe; the three states considered as the epicentre of the Boko Haram attacks.
Yawe says Buhari’s claim came on the heels of the slaughtering of over 40 farmers at Zarbarmari in Borno State by insurgents, saying, “this is not stability.”
CNG’s spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, on his part says, “the Nigerian public has for long lost confidence in the ability of the President and his men to tell even simple thing as the truth.
“In any case, a government that is infested with such grandmasters of half and untruth, propaganda and uncouth lies as the Information Minister and the two presidential media aides cannot expect to be taken seriously.
“In a region where farmers are prohibited from accessing their farms, motorways cannot be passed, schools are attended at personal risk and policing has become a major problem generally, no leader can boast of success in restoration of stability.
“Obviously, the presidency is coming up with this fresh gaffe to distract attention from the nationwide concern over the Financial Times report that Nigeria under the current administration (regime) is at the brinks of becoming a failed state.”
Buhari has however, acknowledged that the country is facing various challenges, and also notes that they are beyond the simplistic options being debated.
He has given a seeming equivocal assurance that his administration will remain focused on following the complex, multi-dimensional route to reduce the incidents of insecurity to the barest minimum.
President Buhari stressed the need for people to live and move freely without let or hindrance, noting that security was also crucial for the growth of the economy.
He said the worthy values of the Christmas season such as joy, peace, hope, love, goodwill, and imminent salvation, were very much needed at this time to overcome the challenges facing the country.
President Buhari added that the social intervention measures and other economic policies of the government have begun to yield positive results, even at modest rates.
He congratulated Nigerians, especially the Christians, and urged them to celebrate while observing all the non-pharmaceutical measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
His Speech Reads:
I felicitate with our Christian brothers and sisters in particular and all Nigerians in general on this joyous occasion of Christmas 2020, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ.
In Christendom, the Christmas season represents joy, peace, hope, love, goodwill, and imminent salvation.
These worthy values which Jesus’ Advent symbolise, are very much needed in our country at this time when we are confronted with diverse challenges like the rising spate of armed banditry, kidnappings, insurgency, economic recession and an upsurge of COVID-19 infections.
I wish to, therefore, enjoin fellow compatriots to appropriate the hope that comes with Christmas and reinvest trust in this administration’s determination and unwavering commitment to restore peace, security and prosperity to our dear country.
Under my watch, the Federal Government will continue to provide the needed support within available resources to the gallant members of our armed forces and security agencies as they confront threats to our citizens.
While I commend them for their efforts so far, I urge them to do more to checkmate increasing incidents of security threats especially in the northern parts of the country as well as the entire nation in varying degrees.
Their display of tact, camaraderie, and expertise that led to the recent return of abducted schoolboys of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, will remain a milestone in the annals of the country.
For me, providing security for all residents in the country remains an article of faith. It formed a vital segment of this Administration’s three-point agenda right from inception, and we must follow through with it.
I cannot in good conscience shirk this cardinal responsibility to secure lives and property. I feel pained each time a breach of peace and security occurs in any part of the nation.
I am even more distressed when our youths, especially schoolchildren, are the targets and victims of mindless and malevolent elements in the society.
As a parent, I share the emotional torture and agony parents and guardians go through whenever their children and wards fall into the cruel hands of these enemies of decency and good society.
I plead with fellow compatriots to give our military and other security agencies more time, cooperation, and support by volunteering credible intelligence/information on activities of armed bandits, insurgents, and other criminal elements within their communities in order to put an end to this blight on our security landscape.
To be sure, the problems are beyond the simplistic options being bandied around. We shall remain focused on following the complex, multi-dimensional route to reducing the incidents of insecurity to the barest minimum.
Our people must be free to live and move without let or hindrance. This is crucial not only to enthroning an atmosphere of calm and social cohesion but for the economy to grow.
Let us use this season of goodwill and joy to renew our faith in the ability of this administration to make a lasting difference in the lives of our hard-working people.
Our Social Intervention measures and other economic policies are already yielding positive results even at modest rates.
We shall deliberately target our youths so that they will not fall into the trap of unpatriotic elements to foment social disobedience leading to avoidable loss of lives and property.
Let me reiterate that while the right to peaceful association and protest is guaranteed under our laws, this administration will not fold its arms and watch protests however well-intended, degenerate into wanton killings of law enforcement and other security personnel, as well as destruction of private and national assets.
It is gladdening to note that the various schemes and components of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) are being implemented faithfully to support micro-small businesses.
I am particularly delighted that artisans, small-time transporters, traders, and farmers are the main beneficiaries as we continue to provide safety nets to the most vulnerable members of our society as well as business owners to mitigate the harsh economic environment occasioned by COVID-19.
In spite of dwindling national revenue worsened by the pandemic, we will do all that is required to fully implement the 2021 Budget of Economic Recovery and Resilience.
We are optimistic that all things being equal, we should be able to exit recession in the shortest possible time.
There is every indication that our country is already experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 infection.
As we celebrate Christmas with families and friends, I urge all citizens and residents to adhere strictly to the non-pharmaceutical prevention guidelines of regular hand-washing, wearing masks, and social/physical distancing with a view to mitigating the spread of this devastating virus.
While national and state institutions are trying their best, we must take individual responsibility and resist the strong temptation of compliance-fatigue by following the recommended protocols put in place by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and beat the ravaging pandemic.
I have absolute confidence in the spirit of resilience of our people to do the needful and remain vigilant even as this festive season witnesses increased travels and celebrations.
Staying alive to enjoy future festivals should be the watchword.
I wish all Nigerians divine protection and Merry Christmas.