Presidency rejects APC position on Boko Haram, says Nigeria is not on auto pilot
The All Progressives Congress (APC) advised President Goodluck Jonathan administration to pursue a multidimensional approach to the fight against Boko Haram insurgency, saying that military approach alone would not defeat the insurgents.
The party listed 10-point approach towards ending the menace of Boko Haram in the country, while welcoming the assistance being offered by the international community in rescuing over 200 schoolgirls abducted 26 days ago in Chibok, Borno State.
However, the Presidency did not take kindly to the advice. It accused the party's chairman, Mr. Bisi Akande, who had given out the party's position at a media briefing of being dishonest over his claim that Nigeria was on autopilot and the observation that Boko Haram has reached a stalemate.
The ruling party, reacting to Akande's auto pilot claim, said members of APC had continued in their blame game, giving courage to the terrorists.
Akande had called the bluff of those who might want to excoriate the party over its position, adding that name-calling would also not bother the party as long as the suggested ideas would bring peace to the nation.
Akande noted that military approach alone would not defeat the insurgents as it had been clearly
Akande, who recalled that some statements made by the party leaders in the past were being distorted, disclosed that General Muhammadu Buhari was still resolute to take the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to court for allegedly linking him to the insurgency ravaging the land.
The spokesperson of the party, Lai Mohammed, added that the planned litigation would take off soon.
The APC boss said in addressing the issue of Boko Haram, the Jonathan-led Federal Government must develop and/or publish a counter-terrorism strategy, while he observed that currently there was “poor coordination between and integration of military means and political and economic objectives.”
According to him, there was currently no publicly known counter-terrorism strategy guiding the response to Boko Haram, saying that the impact of this could be seen in at least three ways, including what he described as “chaos and confusion” surrounding the government's intention to explore a negotiated settlement by dialoguing with the sect and, thereafter, a U-turn.
Secondly, he urged the government to build a new intelligence gathering Infrastructure, explaining that there was the need to obtain more timely and actionable intelligence from local sources in the areas affected by Boko Haram insurgency.
Other approaches, according to him, included the need to improve the country's intelligence and contingency plan in the military; pursue and align military with political (negotiated) solutions; pursue de-radicalisation strategy in the North through de-radicalisation programme to prevent many more young people (illiterate and unemployed) from being radicalised, as well as adopt policy to regionalise response through Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union.
“The government should solicit the operational involvement and assistance of ECOWAS and AU, including deploying multinational security operations across the Sahel to track and hunt down Boko Haram operational chain. It is clear that Boko Haram is no longer a 'Nigeria-only' problem, but now a regional security menace that requires regional responses,” Akande said.
Other approches, he said, should include establishing effective information management and strategic communication, putting in economic development plan for Northern Nigeria and, finally, involving civilian peace building organisations.
“Uniformed personnel are never peace builders. The government needs to urgently involve local and international peace-building organisations, including NGOs, CSOs, etc, to design peace building initiatives for the North-East,” Akande maintained, declaring that a multifaceted strategy was a better option in ending the Boko Haram insurgency in the country.
Akande warned that the country currently stood the “rim of crisis” as a stupendous national disaster beckoned, urging that the President Jonathan-led administration could help avert disaster if government woke up to what true governance was.
“The time for excuses and half-measures is long past. The well-being of the nation hangs in the balance. If we do not act decisively, the demands of the moment will find us wanting and history will issue a terrible verdict against us.
“We seek to protect this nation and its children. We seek to establish a legacy that shows the feats to which this nation can aspire when it stands united and strong against the threat of evil. We seek to make Nigeria a land where no one will ever have to demand that our girls be returned because, in a better, more secure Nigeria, they never will be taken,” he concluded.
Other national officers of the party that joined Akande for the briefing included the interim national secretary, Tijani Tumsah; National Treasurer, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq; national organising secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso and the national woman leader, Mrs Sharon Ikeazor.
Others were Senator Annie Okonkwo, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the party women leader in Lagos State, Mrs Kemi Nelson.
However, Presidential Spokesperson, Dr Reuben Abati, in a statement issued in Abuja said that Akande and his party were “dishonest and upatriotic” in making the auto pilot claim.
“Nigeria is not on auto pilot. There is a government in place, there is a President who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
“He is doing his very best to provide quality leadership and to reassure Nigerians that government stands ready always to defend their best interest.
“To give the impression that the President is doing nothing is dishonest,” Abati said.
Abati also faulted Akande on the claim that the “government is mouthing meaningless phrases”.
He said:”This government is not engaging in blame game. This government has a job to do and it is doing the job.
“They cannot say that government is on auto pilot in the face of all the achievements of this administration in the rail sector, health, aviation, foreign relations, transportation, trade and investmentand in every sector.
“If Chief Akande wants to be honest with himself, he will say the truth and the truth will be that this country has been moved forward by President Jonathan.
“We are not at the level we were at the time President Jonathan assumed officein 2011.”
Abati said that it was unfortunate that the chairman of the APC would use the opportunity of the situation in the country and the abduction of the girls of GSSC, Chibok to engage in partisan blackmail.
He stressed that the issue of national security should go beyond partisan politics.
“We are on top of the situation' that Chief Akande is referred to is an English idiom and indeed, the government is on top of the situation.
“Government's primary responsibility is to ensure that when issues come up, it stands firm to do its very best to protect the people,
“This administration has continually showed courage and commitment in the face of whatever challenge that may arise,” he said.
Abati said that the administration welcomed suggestions and recommendations from well meaning Nigerians.
He also said that the recommendations made by Akande in his piece were things that were already in place.
“These are steps that had already been taken by this administration. So there is nothing original in his recommendations that is unknown to the administration,” he said.
Abati stressed that the period should notbe used as a time for politicking,campaigning for 2015 and trying to run down the country.
But responding to the claims, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, in a statement issued in Abuja, on Sunday, said government considered the claim as most unfortunate, as it noted that that the chairman of APC had used the opportunity of the situation in the country, namely the abduction of the girls of GSSC, Chibok, to engage in partisan blackmail.
The presidency said the issue of national security should go beyond partisan politics, noting that this was a very serious moment requiring seriousness
It also described the interim national chairman of APC, as being dishonest over his claim that Nigeria is in autopilot.
“The issue of national security should go beyond partisan politics. This is a very serious moment requiring seriousness. But to reduce all of that to partisan politics is in bad taste and irresponsible.
“One, Nigeria is not on auto pilot. There is a government in place, there is a president who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He is doing his very best to provide quality leadership and to reassure Nigerians that government stands ready always to defend their best interest.
“The government is on top of the situation. Government's primary responsibility is to ensure that when issues come up, it stands firm to do its very best to protect the people.
“This administration has continually showed courage and commitment in the face of whatever challenge that may arise.
“To give the impression that the president is doing nothing is dishonest. This government is not mouthing meaningless phrases, this government is not engaging in blame game. This government has a job to do and it is doing the job.
“They cannot say that government is on auto pilot in the face of all the achievements of this administration in the rail sector, health, aviation, foreign relations, transportation , trade and investment and in every sector.
“If Chief Akande wants to be honest with himself, he will say the truth and the truth will be that this country has been moved forward by President Jonathan, that we are not at the level we were at the time President Jonathan assumed office in 2011.
“So, to say the country is on auto pilot is unpatriotic, because it is a lie.
“Chief Akande has made a number of recommendations. This administration welcomes suggestions and recommendations. If he had limited his contributions to just making these recommendations, he would have sounded like a statesman.
“But let him be informed that even those recommendations that he has made are things that are already in place. These are steps that had already been taken by this administration. So there is nothing original in his recommendations that is unknown to the administration.
“But he went beyond making recommendations to begin to engage in politics. We will like to advise people like him that where national interest is involved, we should come together and work hand-in-hand with the government.
“This is not the occasion for politicking, campaigning about 2015 and trying to run down the country.
In fact, it is people like him who run down their country that are creating problem for the country,” he said.