President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said the situation in Borno State due to the Boko Haram insurgency would have been worse but for his administration.
The president stated this when he visited the palace of the Shehu of Borno, Abubakar El-Kanemi, as part of his official trip to Borno State.
The presidency had earlier this week announced that Mr. Buhari had cancelled his scheduled casual leave to visit Borno, especially in view of recent losses suffered by soldiers fighting the Boko Haram insurgents.
Borno is the state most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency, with the governor saying about 100,000 people have died due to he insurgency since 2009.
Scores of soldiers and civilians were killed in recent attacks on military bases and civilian population in Borno by the insurgents.
The worst of the attacks occured in Metele about a forthnight ago where the terrorists attacked an army base killing over 100 soldiers.
At the palace of Shehu of Borno, Mr Buhari said his administration will do everything to secure the country.
He commiserated with all Nigerians who lost loved ones following recent setbacks in the fight against terrorists.
“We have to remind ourselves where we were and where we are now and what happened in between,” he said.
“The people of Borno State know what we did in the last three years. The situation would have been worse,” he said.
Mr Buhari also expressed his determination to change the unemployment situation of youth in the country, pointing out that “jobs for the young persons, especially those who are 30 and below in Borno State and across the federation continue to engage our attention. We go to bed with it and wake up with it.”
In his remarks, the Shehu of Borno, who spoke on behalf of the State’s Council of Chiefs, thanked the president for bringing peace to the state and asked for intensive security patrols across the territories to save people from attacks on farms.
Also on Wednesday, the president ordered the military to eliminate all threats of Boko Haram, declaring that the war against terrorism is “a must win’’.
“It is a must win war. I want to encourage our troops not to be distracted by speculations but remain focused and committed to the task of eliminating Boko Haram from the surface of the earth,’’ the president said while declaring open the 2018 Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference.
President Buhari assured the military that his administration will continue to address their needs in terms of manpower development and equipment supply, promising that their welfare and entitlements will also be improved.
“I want to reassure you that as your Commander-In-Chief, I will do everything within my power to continue empowering you by providing all the necessary equipment, force multipliers and enablers required for you to prevail on the field.
“I also want you to be aware that I am currently looking into measures to improve your entitlements and welfare generally,’’ he added.
The president commended the efforts and sacrifices of the military in safeguarding the peace, security and territorial integrity of the country.
According to him, “the officers and men who are fighting against the curse of terrorism in the North East deserve all the attention our country’s leadership can give them.
“As President of the country, I am determined to ensure that every citizen feels safe and secure in all parts of the country. To achieve this, the security agencies must rise to the challenge and curb threats to security in our country.’’
President Buhari called on the armed forces to embrace “the wind of change that is blowing across the country,” urging more cooperation at inter-service and inter-agency levels.
“To this end, the Chief of Defence Staff and Service Chiefs must work closely together as well as with other security agencies to improve on strategies that will defeat terrorism, militancy and other forms of criminal activities in our country,” he said.
President Buhari, who also addressed officers and men of the Nigerian Army at the Maimalari Barrack, headquarters of Operation Lafiya-Dole, said he shared in the agony of loss of gallant soldiers.
“I have come to pay homage to the gallant soldiers lost by the nation and to console the injured ones in recent terrorist attacks. I urge you to remain focused and win the war,’’ the president said.
Mr Buhari also commended Nigerian Army’s commitment to upholding democracy and urged them to remain committed to their profession.
“As we approach the 2019 General Elections, I want to urge all members of the Armed Forces to live up to their responsibilities and remain non-partisan. In addition, you must all remain vigilant throughout the electioneering period and alongside other security agencies, prevent every form of violence that could disrupt the process in line with your Rules of Engagement,’’ he said.
President Buhari urged the soldiers, who were on parade, to always show disciplined conduct.
“No matter how equipped the military is, the military is of no use if it doesn’t have discipline,” he said, urging them to uphold the tenets of the constitution and ensure tight security to protect lives and property.’’
In his statement at the conference, the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, said internal security had greatly improved from what it was in 2015 when President Buhari assumed office.
Mr Buratai, a lieutenant general, said a new proactive strategy would be put in place to counter the recent military losses.
He said the army remains neutral and non-partisan and will carry out their constitutional duty of safeguarding the nation’s democracy.
The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali, assured the president that the military was putting in place new strategies to stabilise the country.
President Buhari asked for a minute’s silence in memory of the gallant soldiers and before his departure, he went round the wards to visit wounded soldiers in the hospital within the army barracks.
He gave assurances that the soldiers would be taken care of.