- President seeks $1bn foreign loan to tackle insurgency
A former Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, yesterday warned that the war against Boko Haram insurgents may be far from being over as the sect is having the upper hand.
Danjuma, who left his audience dumbfounded, gave the warning during the inauguration of the “Victims Support Fund” by President Goodluck Jonathan in the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Continuing, Danjuma, who serves as the chairman of the committee, also jokingly tasked President Jonathan to lead a military campaign to rout Boko Haram members out of their den in Sambisa Forest, in Borno state.
The former minister of defence stressed the need for the war to be won quickly. The Taraba-born retired general also said it was worrisome that apart from striking at will, the Boko Haram insurgents were equally holding positions and displacing innocent citizens.
While assuring the president that the committee will discharge its mandate diligently, he, however said: “Mr. President, one thing we won’t do is to go to Sambisa Forest. The Commander-in-Chief will have to lead, and we will follow the Commander-in-Chief.
“But seriously, this war must be brought to an end. Mr. President, we must win this war immediately. It has taken too long. I called it civil war when it began; people say it is insurgency. The insurgents appear to be having an upper hand at this very moment. They pick and choose where to strike. They are even holding positions and displacing us. We must win this war. Mr. President, we must do so immediately”, he stressed.
Still talking about the task before his committee, T.Y. Danjuma said: “We will raise the funds, we will disburse it. I promise you, we will do so diligently and transparently, but we must win this war Mr. President. May God bless our country”.
While inaugurating the committee earlier, Jonathan had lamented that the Boko Haram members continued to unleash terror on Nigerians, noting that it was the responsibility of his administration to secure victory for the country against the sect.
He said Nigeria was currently confronted with individuals whose minds had been so twisted and tutored to believe they were doing God a service.
He said apart from killing, maiming and striking fear into law-abiding Nigerians, destroying villages, attacking property and terminating people’s livelihoods without a care in the world, the insurgents had also engaged the security agencies in a meaningless warfare that had wasted unimaginable human and material resources.
Jonathan pledged his government’s commitment to ending terrorism, saying there is no hiding place for the Boko Haram insurgents.
According to the president, the committee is expected to provide a framework through which all persons and institutions could help mitigate the pains which Nigerians are currently undergoing.
He said the committee’s terms of reference included identifying sources and ways of raising sustainable funding to support victims of terror activities; developing appropriate strategies for the fund raising; ascertaining the persons, communities, facilities and economic assets affected by terror activities; assessing and determining the appropriate support required in each case; managing, disbursing and/or administering support to the victims as appropriate; and advising the government on other matter(s) necessary or incidental to support victims of terror activities.
Also speaking, the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, said for the nation to defeat the terrorists, very hard choices had to be made.
“We have so been more concerned about the lives of a few versus the condition of a few million. The decision has to be made soon. This is not the first time we have been challenged by very senior Nigerians about the need to end this. We had a situation the other day with former heads of state, they told the president the same thing.
“We do realize that the time has come to draw a line. As we have said, if they (Boko Haram) are taking the territories, then we have lost the first role as far as I am concerned. At this point, I will like to assure you and assure all Nigerians that we will win the war and God willing, we will do it quickly”, he added.
Members of the Victims’ Support Fund Committee include Fola Adeola (vice chairman), Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, Mr. Cosmas Maduka, Mr. Jim Ovia, Alhaji Mohammed Indimi, Alh. Abdulsamad I. Rabiu, Alhaji Sani Dauda, Mr. Wale Tinubu, NEMA Director General, Sani Sidi, Air Vice Marshal Tony Omenyi representing Defence headquarters, Mr Salisu Fagge representing Nigerian Police Force, Mr. Sayana Yusuf representing Department of State Services, Chief Uche Secondus, PDP Deputy National Chairman (South), Tijani Tumsah, APC.
Others are a representative of Christian Association of Nigeria, a representative of Jamaatu Nasril Islam, Mrs. Nkechi Mba, representing the National Council of Women Societies, Executive Secretary of the
National Human Rights Commission, Professor Bem Angwe, a representative of the United Nations, a representative of Department for International Development, a representative of USAID, a representative of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Balarabe Musa, representing the Conference of the Nigerian Political Parties and two representatives of local civil society/youth groups (a male and a female).
In the a related development, the president yesterday sought the National Assembly’s approval to borrow $1 billion (about N168 billion) to fight the Boko Haram insurgency.
In a letter sent on Tuesday and addressed to the Senate President, David Mark, Jonathan spoke about the need for external borrowing to enable the upgrade of security equipment in order to fight the insurgency.
He said the $1 billion will also be used to train the military and other security officers.