Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has commended the Nigerian Army for keeping Nigeria together, saying the army has, through the years, exemplified the ideals of a united country regardless of ethnicity or religion.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Saturday at the Nigerian Army Day celebration in Lagos.
“You have fought side by side with your brothers and sisters of different faiths and ethnicities and you have seen many fall by your side as they paid the supreme sacrifice in battle.
“Enemy fire does not distinguish one tribe from the other, nor does it distinguish one faith from another, the blood of so many and the abounding grace of God has kept this nation together.
“This is why we must never let the self-serving ethnic and religious jingoists, whoever they may be, create the circumstances for strife and bloodshed.
“This is also an opportunity to remind all Nigerians of the need to live in peace with one another; the importance of choosing unity and tolerance over the impulse to be sectional, vengeful or violent in any way.”
The vice president assured the military of that President Buhari would continue to discharge his administration’s obligation to them.
“We also must and will continue to demonstrate the political will and determination towards ensuring that our land is rid of insurgency and that criminality is kept to the barest minimum.
“During the first term of the Buhari administration, we worked tirelessly to lay the foundation for a Nigeria that works for everyone, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or partisan affiliation. Our priorities were – and remain – Security, the Economy and the fight against Corruption.
“The challenges we faced were grave, but we faced the task resolutely. We rolled back the footprints of Boko Haram; where once they controlled 17 local government areas in Northeast Nigeria in early 2015, today they control no Nigerian territory.
“Independent observers have reported a drastic decline in the fatalities caused by Boko Haram, and the various factions of the group that exist today are no more than shadows of what existed when we came to office.
“We are surrounded by evidence of the progress we have made in the fight against the insurgency.
“As you all know, Monguno, where you held the Military Equipment Exhibition and Mini Trade Fair last year, was once a stronghold of Boko Haram. Sambisa Forest, once the spiritual heartland of the insurgents, hosted the 2017 Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship.
He noted that even as the military was curtailing the threat represented by Boko Haram, other threats are emerging.
“Islamic State West Africa ISWAP and other in the Lake Chad islands and parts of Southern Borno. Radical Islamist Terrorism is an evil that must be seen as the common enemy of all faiths, including Islam.
“As the President said and I paraphrase, ‘anyone who says Allahu Akbar and goes on to kill is either insane or dangerously ignorant of the tenets of Islam.’
“The likes of Boko Haram, ISIS, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and many Salafist-Jihadist ideologies are expansionist ideologies that feed purely on hate, hatred of any person or group that does not belong to their particular sect.
“They have no redressible grievances so there are no terms of reference for peace. Fanatics committed to a twisted creed. They exploit the ignorance of the tenets of Islam, poverty and exclusion, recruit men and women and use children to perpetuate the most heinous atrocities.
“They are motivated by a satanic desire to control communities by murder and terror.
“Whether it is in Iraq, Borno or Syria their victims are men, women and children, Muslim or Christians so long as they do not share their sick ideology, they target churches, mosques markets and motor parks where people gather, using children as human bombs to kill randomly, regardless of tribe or faith.
“The challenge for us is to recognize this extremism for what it is. To form alliances across faiths and ethnicities to destroy an evil that confronts us all.
“Fulani herder and farmer conflicts, random killings banditry and kidnapping some attributed to Fulani bandits, in different parts of the country are extant challenges that the army has had to intervene in on several occasions.”
He said these issues were being seriously tackled by the Federal Government, working with the States, through a multi-pronged approach.
“Nobody will be allowed to maim, kill or commit other crimes and escape. It is our duty to apprehend and punish these criminals and we are doing and will continue to do so.
“You will be hearing a lot more about these solutions in the weeks and months ahead. Law enforcement is, of course, an important element of the response.
“We have seen an unprecedented ramping up of the deployment of military personnel – multi-agency intervention squads like Operation Whirlstroke, the training and deployment of Special Forces, new Forward Operating Bases, and so on – to the flashpoints, in the last eighteen months.
“Several bandits’ hideouts and camps have been destroyed, and hundreds of arrests have been made, and it is now up to our judicial systems to ensure that justice is meted out not just comprehensively but also in a timely manner,” Prof. Osinbajo said.