•‘We will overcome’
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
Amidst the upsurge in banditry and kidnapping in some parts of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has said the nation will overcome.
Buhari assured Nigerians that ending banditry remains a key priority of his administration and that he would do whatever it takes to ensure the country’s security system confronts “these public enemies” with merciless determination.
He condoled with all those affected by the unfortunate events while reacting to the recent spike in incidents of banditry and kidnapping in some parts of the country.
The President, who spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Malam Garba Shehu, said, “How can I be happy and indifferent to the senseless killings of my fellow citizens by bandits? I am human and I understand the pains of the victims and their families who have been traumatized and impoverished by constant ransom demands by bandits.
“The politicisation of tragedy reveals the darkest sides of our primitive politics. Almost every week, I summon my security chiefs to get an update on the strategies being devised to defeat these mass murderers.
“There is no issue that dominates my mind every 24 hours like security because, as an elected President, protecting the citizens of my country is one of the primary functions of my administration.
“I constantly listen to our security personnel in order to understand their problems and needs, and I have never hesitated to attend to those needs in terms of motivating and equipping them to respond effectively to our security challenges.
“It is therefore ridiculous to suggest that I am indifferent to these killings.
“I have ordered rapid and robust deployment of troops to all the areas currently under attack from bandits and we are determined to tackle this challenge ferociously until these remorseless killers are crushed and utterly defeated.”
Buhari called on communities where banditry is active to support and cooperate with the security agencies, particularly the recently launched Operation Puff Adder, to battle bandits and kidnappers.
According to him, it was regrettable that bandits have informants within some communities and utterly reprehensible that certain communities have signed protection deals with bandits at the expense of other communities, thereby creating complications and frustrating government’s intervention.
He appealed to communities to report suspicious movements of the bandits into their areas within the shortest available opportunity, especially considering the fact that intelligence is critical to detecting, frustrating, neutralising and defeating the criminals.
‘Boko Haram degraded’
In a related development, the President said that the only way to defeat predatory and divisionary forces globally was cooperation among nations.
Buhari spoke at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa held under the theme, ‘Building New Platforms of Cooperation’, in Jordan.
According to him, the global problems were compounded by the fact that physical borders no longer exist to protect even the most secured nations in the current digital age.
“In this digital age where physical borders no longer exist to protect even the most secured nations, the only way to overcome predatory and divisionary forces is for all well-meaning nations to work together for the greater good of mankind”, he said.
“Simply put, cooperation amongst sovereign nations is no longer a choice. It is an absolute necessity.”
He noted that the world in the last ten years has completely changed, adding, “We have seen and experienced significant shifts on many fronts. In Technology; Population and Migration; Trade and Geopolitics; Climate change; and many more”, Buhari stated.
“For some nations, these trends have had positive impacts. But of course, we have also seen the negative and destructive outcomes of these trends in other countries.
“It is my view, that no region of the world has felt the full impact of these dramatic shifts and shocks like the Middle East and Africa – North and Sub-Sahara.
“On one hand, our region is blessed with a very young, vibrant, enterprising and dynamic population. We also have valuable natural resources that are the envy of many nations.”
The President further stated that the assets and endowments have contributed to Nigeria’s region experiencing some of the highest economic growth rates in the world.
He, however, noted with regret that the region has also been host to some of the deadliest conflicts in recent history, stressing that lack of social and economic inclusion were mainly responsible for the problem.
His words, “The deaths, damage and destruction caused by terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram over the last ten years will take decades to repair.
“By the special grace of God, today, most of these terrorist organizations have been significantly degraded. The world came together to achieve this. Now, we are faced with the task of rebuilding.
“It is at this point that we must ask ourselves how we, as a region, got to this point. The answer, at least in the case of Nigeria, is the lack of social and economic inclusion.
“As Nigeria celebrated being the largest economy in Africa and one of the fastest growing economies in the world, Nigerians were migrating in droves through harsh desert conditions and across treacherous seas to seek what they believe would be a better life in Europe.
“I strongly believe that the lack of social and economic inclusion was the root cause of many challenges we are experiencing.”
He said that efforts must be put in place to start engaging the increasing population, productively.
“Today, our population is one hundred and ninety million people. By 2050, it is estimated that we hit three hundred and ninety million making us the third most populous country in the world. This means we must start working now to ensure this population is productively engaged,” he stated.
Buhari said Nigeria in the last four years had focused on security while implementing inclusive policies.
The President stressed, “On the security front, we made significant gains in fighting Boko Haram. We have recaptured all territories held by Boko Haram in 2014. We have liberated thousands of Nigerians held against their will.
“Today, I am pleased to say no territory in the Federal Republic of Nigeria is held or controlled by Boko Haram. We are extremely grateful to the many countries that have stood with Nigeria to confront this global scourge and in particular, the Kingdom of Jordan under the leadership of His Majesty, the King.
“Furthermore, our economic diversification and social inclusion policies are also yielding positive results. Our country has now returned to the path of growth. We are making gains in the ease of doing business indices.
“A key driver for growth is the agricultural sector where we aggressively pushed agricultural policies that empowered millions of our rural citizens.
“In the spirit of “Building New Platforms of Cooperation”, we partnered with the Kingdom of Morocco to domesticate fertilizer production in Nigeria and revive over two million tons of abandoned fertilizer blending plant capacity.
“The outcome is we created tens of thousands of jobs in agriculture, logistics, manufacturing and retail sectors. We are able to achieve moderate growth. But it was inclusive.
“Nigeria is now at a new dawn and embarking on a new development trajectory. We are determined to industrialise Nigeria leveraging our comparative advantage.
“We recognize the private sector as the engine of growth and a veritable partner in our economic agenda. The Middle East is a natural partner.”
Shared economic prosperity
Africa and the Middle East, he said, must therefore focus on policies that will deliver shared economic prosperity for the citizens.
“On trade and investments for example, we can do more. Africa represents only five percent of Jordan’s trade with the world. But we have the resources, the people and the markets to do more”, he said.
“Opportunities exist in key job creating sectors such as Agriculture, Health, Tourism, ICT, Infrastructure as well as Textile and garmenting to mention a few.
“Our new, inclusive and diversified Nigeria is definitely open for business. Our population, resources, policies and programs make it the most attractive investment destination in Africa.
“As friends and allies, we must therefore cooperate and leverage on our relative strengths. We must remain open to “Building New Platforms of Cooperation”.
Continuing, the Nigerian leader said, “As we deliberate over the next two days, I would ask all leaders present to reflect on our collective experiences. We must identify how we can work together.
“Today, we are living in a new world. In this new world without borders, my personal view is stability and sustainability can only be achieved through inclusive economic growth, and enhanced cooperation amongst nations.”