Chibok girls: You can’t threaten me •Jonathan replies northern elders •Afenifere, Igbo group react
HE Presidency, on Tuesday, responded to the ultimatum purportedly given by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) for President Goodluck Jonathan to rescue Chibok schoolgirls and bring an end to Boko Haram insurgency or lose the support of the North in the 2015 presidential electionIn a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, in Abuja, the Presidency viewed the ultimatum with concern, saying President Jonathan did not need any ultimatum to discharge his responsibilities.
“We wish to state categorically 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,” it said.
The Presidency was of the view that the issue of insurgency, especially those ideologically based on Islamic extremism, was a global phenomenon and required tact, military capability, serious de-radicalisation techniques and community-based counter-insurgency programmes.
“We are improving on our operational capabilities and efficiencies by acquiring more advanced weapons and technologies for our military and security agencies. We have drafted more military personnel to the region, in order to strengthen the fighting power of our armed forces.
“We are taking advantage of the offers from our international military and intelligence allies to assist in identifying key locations. We are working with our neighbours to secure the borders and limit the movements of the Boko Haram fighters, 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 $1 billion,” the statement read.
It added that “the last piece in the puzzle is targeting the domestic and international funding and stopping the money flows into the coffers of the terrorists.”
The presidency said with all these efforts and support of allies, the steps would help fight the threat of the Boko Haram “and move us closer to bringing the girls back safely.”
It rejected the suggestion that the present administration was systematically involved in a scheme to annihilate the North, pointing out that northerners were part of those who voted for President Jonathan.
Also addressing a press conference in Abuja on the ultimatum, the Igbo Redemption Group, on Tuesday, described it as a plan to frustrate the 2015 presidential ambition.
The ultimatum, according to the group, confirmed fears that some persons would take advantage of activities of insurgents in the country to prevent Jonathan from seeking a second term.
Interim president of the group, Mr Delly Ajufo, warned that such utterances by NEF were capable of plunging the nation into crisis.
Ajufo, who described the ultimatum as a blackmail, said it was aimed at disrupting the activities of the president, thus truncating the entire democratic process.
Recalling that a leader of the forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi, had previously told the president to be ready to pack out of Aso Rock, Ajulo described the statements as unacceptable.
Also reacting, the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, carpeted the northern elders for the statement, saying it was unpatriotic to play politics with issue of insurgency.
Afenifere, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Yinka Odumakin, wondered why the northern elders chose to bury their heads in the sand in the face of activities of the Boko Haram in their region.
“A time has come to let these elite know they can no longer play the ostrich by burying their heads in the sand and think no one sees them, because they are seeing no one,” the statement read.
Afenifere added that what the country required at the moment was the joining of hands by patriots across all divides to end the reign of terror ravaging the land.
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