Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Chibok girls: Jonathan flays Northern elders

President Goodluck Jonathan has said that no group or person can threaten him before he will perform his official duties.

Jonathan, who was responding to an October deadline given to him on Monday by members of the Northern Elders Forum to ensure the rescue of the abducted schoolgirls, said the ultimatum was in bad taste.

Two NEF members, Solomon Dalung and Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, had said that the rescue of the girls who have been in the captivity of Boko Haram insurgents for three months now, was a condition for Jonathan to enjoy Northern support for his presidential ambition in 2015.

The northern elders had said, “We are convinced that most of these conflicts are being engineered to weaken the North politically and economically by interests which intend to exploit such weaknesses for electoral benefits.

“In the light of our firm conviction that the insurgency and related security challenges pose threats to the 2015 elections and the survival of our nation, we strongly advise President Jonathan to bring to an end, the insurgency in all its manifestations and produce the Chibok girls before the end of October 2014.”

But Jonathan, who spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said he was already working on how to rescue the abducted girls.

Okupe added that “President Jonathan does not require any threat or ultimatum from any group of persons to be alive to his responsibilities to the Nigerian people.”

He pointed out that insurgency, especially when it is based on Islamic extremism, was a global phenomenon that required tact, military capability, serious de-radicalisation techniques and community-based counter insurgency programmes.

In these areas, Okupe said that the Federal Government was making progress.

He said that the military and other security agencies were improving on their operational abilities by acquiring more advanced weapons and technologies.

Apart from this, Okupe said the government had also drafted more military personnel to the North-East to strengthen the fighting power of the armed forces.

He added that the government was equally taking advantage of the offers from foreign military and intelligence allies to assist in identifying the locations of the kidnapped girls.

The Presidential aide said, “We are working with our neighbours to secure the borders and limit the movements of Boko Haram fighters. We are also building on the agreements reached at the recent summits in Paris and London.

“We are deploying more resources to maximise operational efficiency, acquire more advanced and relevant weaponry and boost the general morale of our combatants. This is why the government recently requested for an additional funding of $1bn.

“And the last piece in the puzzle is targeting the domestic and international funding, and stopping the money flowing into the coffers of terrorists.”

On the allegation that the government was carrying out plans aimed at stunting the growth of a section of the country for political gain, Okupe said it was “preposterous, contrary to common sense, divisive and essentially a deliberate attempt to disseminate ‘hate mentality’ and cause mischief.”

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