EKWEREMADU: BOKO HARAM ATTACKS WORSE UNDER BUHARI

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The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, on Thursday said the Boko Haram insurgency had worsened under President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ekweremadu said the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration had almost rolled back Boko Haram and its activities in the North-East.
The deputy senate president also expressed the fear the insurgents could also attack Abuja and the southern part of the country soon.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja, he chose not to answer questions on his alleged involvement in the forgery of senate rules but said he had been worried about the renewed attacks by Boko Haram.
He said, “I am worried about the resurgence of Boko Haram activities in Nigeria. Shortly before the inauguration of the present government, the country had almost rolled back Boko Haram and its activities in every part of Nigeria – from Adamawa to Borno to Yobe.
“I was hoping that when we come back in the 8th Assembly, that I will work with our colleagues from the North-East to develop a plan of action that will help to rehabilitate that part of Nigeria. I feel so concerned about the suffering of our people from the North-East of Nigeria.
“I had hoped that by now we would be tasking ourselves on how best to rebuild that part of Nigeria. Regrettably the actions of Boko Haram seem to have resurfaced now; not only in Borno, they have carried out their activities also in Plateau, they have gone to Adamawa and Kaduna.
“I am worried that if nothing is done, the next target would be Abuja. Maybe they will start going to the South. It is important for us as those in government, whether executive or legislature, to come together to find solutions to these problems.”
He therefore appealed to Nigeria’s neighbouring countries and the international community to support the country to roll back the activities of Boko Haram, stressing that there was no way the nation could achieve progress in the country without peace.
He said the Buhari administration should, as a matter of urgency, “deal with this security challenge no matter what it would cost us.”
He also called for collaboration between the executive and the legislature in order to deal with the scourge.
“We must be on the same page on this matter. I believe that it is time for us to have meetings with the executive as well as the security agencies in order to find out exactly what has happened – why the resurgence of these Boko Haram activities and what we can do as a people to ensure that this matter is dealt with decisively,” Ekweremadu said.
He expressed sympathy with the Boko Haram’s victims and called for an immediate action to stop the menace.
He said, “We believe our President would sit on top of this situation because we believe that Nigerians are worried about this situation and they would like to see an end to Boko Haram activities.
“We would like to do everything to encourage our President, to support him and bring this situation to an end so that we would be able to have peace within this area – the North-East of Nigeria and indeed all parts of Nigeria.
“Whatever has caused this insurgence, we need to address it and aggressively too before it gets too late. I am very worried about the situation. I do hope that we would be able to work together to find solution to this and come to the end of this Boko Haram activities.
“It is not giving us any good image, it is damaging our reputation all over the world, it is damaging our lives, and it is damaging our properties. It has disoriented our brothers and sisters in the North-East.
“The education sector has suffered there, even the economy of the place has suffered so much, and our brothers and sisters from other part of the country that lived there have since left the place. It is a big challenge we must all come together to deal with.”
The deputy senate president, nevertheless, expressed the hope that the nation would overcome the challenge.
“I will like to assure our friends and the international community that the challenge, though enormous, is not beyond our control,” he said.
In reaction, the Presidency said Ekweremadu was entitled to his opinion.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents.
Adesina said the fact that the deputy president of the Senate made such statement did not make it right.
“Senator Ekweremadu is entitled to his opinion. That however does not mean that he is right,” the presidential spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the United States has said that defeating Boko Haram requires a comprehensive approach.
The US Deputy Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, at a press conference on Thursday in Abuja, assured Nigeria of America’s support “as Nigeria develops this comprehensive approach.”
Blinken stated that rescuing the abducted Chibok schoolgirls remained one of US priorities.
He said, “Defeating Boko Haram requires a comprehensive approach that involves the region and includes not only a strong military response, but also sustainable security for liberated areas, good governance, development, and opportunity for the civilian population.
“It also requires a strong commitment to human rights, the absence of which only alienates the people and drives them toward Boko Haram. As Nigeria develops this comprehensive approach, the United States will deepen our support.”
The deputy secretary of state said the US had been assisting Nigeria by providing training, equipment, advice, information, intelligence sharing and logistic support, adding that America recently donated $40m to the global security fund as part of the moves to promote joint efforts with the Lake Chad countries to strengthen cross-border security, cooperation and capacity to combat Boko Haram.
Also, Blinken stated that the US government, as part of the support package, released $5m to the Multinational Joint Task Force to strengthen the fight against the insurgents.
He assured that his country would begin training for investigators and training on border security, post-blast investigation and crisis management.
Blinken said, “I know there are many more young girls and women who are missing, our focus is on them as well. We will continue to provide assistance to the government in an attempt to look for them, find them and bring them home.”
-Punch

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