A former Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Mr. Kofi Annan, has voiced his support for Nigeria’s ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency campaign against the Boko Haram insurgents, describing the recent Baga massacre as brutal.
This came as Amnesty International (AI) said that it had satellite images showing the horrific scale of Boko Haram attack on Baga.
Annan made his statement on Thursday in Abuja during a press conference which formed part of the activities of his visit to the country ahead of the February general elections.
The former UN scribe said no matter the number being quoted, whether in the thousands or hundreds, the killings of innocent Nigerians by the terror organisation was ungodly and unacceptable.
He said: “Terrorism is a global issue. It is a concern to all of us. We should stand as one and resist Boko Haram. We are all responsible for stopping them. Baga massacre was brutal and ungodly.
“I have been receiving conflicting figures. Some said 2,000 people died, while others are saying they are in their hundreds. But it was a massacre.”
To defeat Boko Haram, Annan called on Nigerians to unite to forge a common front against an enemy that does not discriminate in its dastardly acts.
He described the situation in the Northeast region as frustrating, and warned Nigerian leaders to look inwards for solution and that every stakeholder must offer their support in order to stop the insurgents.
The statesman further advised well-meaning Nigerians to stop looking up to other world leaders, insisting that every country has its own peculiar challenges to confront.
“Nigeria must look inwards and find a way to crush terrorism because other countries that you expect to speak out against Boko Haram insurgency have their own challenges. Nigerians should come together and contain Boko Haram,” he said.
“There is no doubt that the situation in the North-east is frustrating and that they would like the insurgency to end. I hope that they will not walk away from voting,” he added.
In the same, Annan stated the importance of next month’s general elections to the West African sub-region, the entire Africa continent and world at large.
He said if Nigeria gets the outcome of the elections right or wrong, it would affect other African countries.
To avoid negative consequences of failed elections, the former UN scribe urged politicians and political leaders to avoid inciting and provocative statements capable of igniting violence.
Annan equally advised the electorate not to adhere to such divisive statements but to challenge those aspiring to lead their programmes for development.
He also refused to consider a situation of stalemate that would lead to a transition government as widely rumoured to be in the plan, saying the election must produce a winner.
In his words: “The lead to avoid violence must come from the party leaders and party chairmen, then their supporters will follow. If they speak the right language and not incite people then there will not be violence. The electorate should also not be seduced by these inflamatory statements but must task the leaders on what they are to do to reduce poverty and unemployment.
“If Nigeria progresses, the region will do likewise, and if they are drowning the region will also suffers”.
“There will be election and there will likely be a winner. One cannot enter election with a mindset that a winner will not emerge. If you don’t vote and you complain later, then you are part of the problem.
Speaking further, Annan expressed confident that from facts presented to him, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is ready to conduct credible elections.
He equally enjoined Nigerians to support the commission in conducting free, fair and credible elections that will usher in the desired change in the country.
“Conduct of elections is not the responsibility of INEC alone. Security agencies have their roles to play. They must play a neutral role and not be partisan.
“Citizens too have roles to play. What happens in Nigeria has great impact in the region and in the world. Nigeria can make Africa proud and I know it will,” Annan said.