- Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai was at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. After a meeting with President Muhammady Buhari, he spoke with State House Press Corps on the unending security situation in Nigeria
Que: Why are you here today?
Ans: I’m here to brief Mr. President on the task he gave me and I have accomplished one aspect of the task and to brief him on our operations, especially operations Sahel Sanity in the Northwest and of course, the ongoing operations in Northeast and other security issues that pertains to the Nigerian Army actually.
I briefed him on the efforts going on in the Northwest. We have seized the initiative. The security situation I assure you is under control and is not like what use to happen a month or two ago. We are working very hard and the troops are doing very well and I commend them for the efforts they have put in so far. This includes the kinetic and the non-kinetic aspect of our exercise Sahel Sanity. We are there fully supporting operation Hadarin Daji, which is a joint operation of the Armed Forces and the security agencies. So far, this collective effort is making tremendous progress in the area of bringing normalcy.
Unlike the series of killings, kidnappings, cattle rustling and of course the threats to prevent the people from going to their farms and farm this season, this has been removed with the presence of the number of troops in the Northwest. And they are carrying out surveillance operations, patrols to ensure that no one is molested if you go outside the community to farm or harvest. We will ensure that this is sustained throughout this farming season and beyond. What we require is the full support of everyone in the area.
It is also important for the Press not to escalate the situation through reportage, giving prominence to the bandits, terrorists activities. This will go a long way in weakening them. You know, for the criminals, publicity is their oxygen. Without that publicity, they will be ineffective. Couple with our efforts in the military and security agencies, we will do everything possible to get rid of these criminals.
Que: What was the task given to you and how will you accomplish it? Can Nigeria win this war?
Ans: The tasks are still ongoing and we will continue to deal with them. Securing our country is a task everybody knows, is to secure the country from any form of insecurity and in this case, you know the military task is very clear, to defend our country from external aggression, our territorial integrity and to come to the aid of civil authority of which we are doing.
So, it’s the same task that we should end or curtail or bring to the barest minimum the issue of kidnapping, banditry, terrorism and insurgency and we have been doing it for a long time. We are essentially supporting the Police to ensure that our country is safe.
As to whether banditry, terrorism and so on will end, I think it all depends. If Nigerians want it to end today, I can assure you it will end today. If everybody joins hands because these bandits are not outside Nigeria, they are not from foreign land.
These terrorists, 99 percent of them are Nigerians. These kidnappers, I will say, 100 per cent of them are Nigerians. So, it’s not just a military, security agency task to end the insecurity in this country. It is only when it goes bad that we are called in, but everybody has the responsibility to handle that. Some of the insecurities are as old as history itself and it all depends on what you are doing to contain or defeat it at a particular time. It is the totality of your effort that will determine the escalation or containment of the insecurity in the country.
It is not today that we have been containing with armed robbery. As far as I know, armed robbery has been existing in this country even before we were born and it’s still going on. Kidnapping too is as old as the history of the country but it’s all depends on the level it’s been perpetuated at a particular time.
Terrorism is relatively new and insurgency. We have had that experience before and we contained it, just like the different crisis we have had in different locations. We had the Maitasine issue, few uprising in history. We have contained them, the unfortunate civil war has come to an end. So any other crisis will also come to an end. The terrorism, insurgency will come to an end. But the important thing is that it’s being contained, it is not allowed to spread the way it used to be.
Whatever that is happening, you can only be apprehensive and express discontentment where there is serious insecurity and nothing is being done. But if serious efforts is being done to contain the situation, I believe the right for any right thinking individual to do is to be hopeful and support the efforts of all the agencies that are involved in containing the situation.
There are set backs that can occur in such military operations or any security operations. But that does not mean inability to handle it, incompetence to handle it. As long as the efforts are there and are visible, the support of all and sundry will be required to address it squarely. Like I said, if we want it to end, the totality of the people’s effort must be put into it to see that insecurity in the country is reduced to the barest minimum.
“But if we don’t do anything and continue to complain and continue to accuse the agencies involved in fighting it, then we are not helping matters. You are supposed to find solutions as something is being done on daily basis. I assure you that we will soon reach the end of the tunnel and we will see the light that will improve the security situation in all parts of the country.