President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday undertook a surprise visit to Maiduguri on the occasion of Nigeria’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day to meet with officers and men of the Armed Forces currently in the frontline of the war against terrorism and insurgency in the country.
This is the first time the President visited the troubled area since insurgency reared its ugly head in the north eastern part of the country. Precisely, the last time the President visited the state was in March 2013, where held a town hall meeting with members of the Borno Elders Forum and other stakeholders on how to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency.
Also, in the wake of the abduction of over 200 Chibok schoolgirls from Federal Government Secondary School Chibok, the President did not make any effort to visit the area.
The girls have so far spent 277 days in the enemy’s camp.
In yesterday’s visit Jonathan, who was accompanied by all the service chiefs, arrived Maiduguri International Airport accompanied by two other military aircrafts at exactly 3pm.
He was received by the state governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima and few other officials of the Borno state government.
The reception at the airport was low-key as there was no political coloration even as the Minister of States for Power, Barrister Muhammed Wakil and other top PDP big shots who were in town since Monday were all conspicuously absent.
From the airport, the president was driven straight to Maimalari Barracks where he addressed troops of the Nigeria Army.
At the barracks President Jonathan told troops that he was visiting them as part of the activities mapped out for him in respect of the armed forces remembrance day even as he commended their gallantry and patriotism by standing their grounds to confront the Boko Haram insurgency.
Jonathan assured the troops that their welfare would be better taken care of.
He said the federal government acknowledged the troops efforts at combating the Boko Haram insurgency, even as he assured them that better motivations have been approved for the soldiers to enable them “crush the insurgents once and for all”.
The president also visited some of the injured soldiers at the military hospital within the barracks where he had a brief chat with soldiers behind closed doors.
Journalists were barred from covering what transpired within the hospital.
From the airport, the president was driven to the IDP camp at the Ali Monguno Teachers Village Housing estate along the way to the airport where he met and sympathised with the displaced persons from Baga town.
He assured the IDPs that the federal government will ensure that they return to their homes very soon as federal troops are working round the clock to ensure that the towns under the control of Boko Haram are reclaimed
Jonathan whose speech at the IDP camp was translated by the Director General of National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA), Mohamed Sani Sidi said: “The federal government is very much concerned about your situation here and I assure you all that very soon you will all return back to your homes in Bama, Gubio, Ngala and Baga.
Goodluck Jonathan left the IDP camp for the airport where he boarded his aircraft that took off at about 6:20pm.
However, the president did not make any statement about the plight of the Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram members 277 days ago, neither did he give any word about prospects of their release or what the government is doing to reunite them with their families.
Throughout the president’s three hours visit in Maiduguri, traffic activities were halted as soldiers barricaded all roads linking the major township roads that the motorcade of the president passed through.
Meanwhile, a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Reuben Abati, said the President thanked the Red Cross and other international organizations who have been assisting in the provision of relief materials to the displaced persons.
He also charged local, state and federal government officials to work with greater harmony and cooperation in rendering support to the displaced persons.
“I do not want to be hearing conflicting reports on support being given to them. Government is one and we must all work together to assist our people whenever the need arises.
“We must cooperate maximally and work together at the local government, state and federal levels to ensure that our people who are unfortunately displaced from their homes get the best possible treatment,” President Jonathan said.