President Muhammadu Buhari says a three-pronged approach will be adopted for the successful prosecution of the war against terrorism in Nigeria.
He said this would involve “winning the minds of young men and women fed with the false ideologies that promote terrorism, addressing the material conditions that make it attractive for them to take up arms against innocent people and rebuilding the communities destroyed by terrorist acts”.
He said it was imperative to develop counter-narratives that repulse the false ideologies that young people have been fed with and to ensure that economic planning is responsive to the needs of a growing number of young people.
He stated that an inter-ministerial team, chaired by Vice President Osinbajo, has been set to plan and implement the physical and social rebuilding of communities destroyed by terrorism.
“This is a task which we have set for ourselves and which we must accomplish because it is important for those communities to understand that they have not been abandoned. It’s important that, aside from their security, the fact they were attacked and their communities were destroyed is a responsibility which the Nigerian government takes seriously because it is the responsibility of government to ensure the security of lives and property.”
The President said the Nigerian elite owe it as a duty to ensure that they do not promote prejudices that can cause clashes and divisions among the people.
“After war, after people have fought and killed themselves and after communities have been destroyed, we sit down to reflect over what had happened, we realise that the reason is because things that ought not have been said were said; things that ought not have been done were done,” he said, insisting that it is the duty of all Nigerians to hold back utterances that could promote violence.
The Nigerian leader insisted that the Boko Haram insurgents have been degraded and expelled from territories they had controlled in the past, forcing them to resort to asymmetrical attacks.
He said: “As of March 2015 , Boko Haram controlled about 20,000 square miles of Nigerian territory, about the size of Belgium: An area stretching from the Mandara Mountains on the eastern border with Cameroon to Lake Chad in the north and the Yedseram river in the west. In Borno, 20 out of 27 Local Governments were under Boko Haram control, including Mubi in Adamawa and several villages in Yobe State. In addition, their bloody footprints reached Abuja, Kano, and Kaduna, with the bombings of the UN building and police headquarters in Abuja. Today they do not occupy any local government area in Nigeria.”
He stressed that Boko Haram no longer has the capacity to hold territory or challenge the sovereignty of Nigeria.
According to him, the abduction of the 110 girls in Dapchi, Yobe State and the attack on humanitarian camp in Rann, Borno State, were reminders of the ruthlessness of the terrorist group.
This was contained in a speech delivered on his behalf by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Eight National Security Seminar of the Alumni Association of the National Defence College, ANDEC, Abuja.
He urged the military to increase their capacity to gather intelligence, which is critical to fight against the terrorists.
The President of the Alumni Association of the National Defence College, Brigadier-General Jonathan Tamlong said the battles of tomorrow have already begun with the activities of terrorist groups and separatist organisations.
He said some of the threats emanated from hostile narratives which are outright hate speeches, high powered politics, religious as well as communal conflicts, climate change, desertification, herders/farmers crisis and cybercrimes to mention but a few.
“We have continued to witnessed changes both in the character of war and the means of violence which include suicide bombers and the context in which they occur,” he said, pointing out that “the social media and cyber have also continued to shape the character of war.”
The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali, represented by Dr. Hassan Abdullahi, also spoke, saying that the new National Defence Policy approved by President Buhari last year would address all issues relating to security in Nigeria.