President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday ordered the military to launch full-scale war against Boko Haram insurgents who have held the country to ransom in the last five years.
“I am determined to protect our democracy, our national unity and our political stability, by waging a total war against terrorism. The unity and stability of our country and the protection of lives and property are non-negotiable. I have instructed our security forces to launch a full-scale operation to put an end to the impunity of terrorists on our soil.
“I have also authorized the security forces to use any means necessary under the law to ensure that this is done. I assure you that Nigeria will be safe again, and that these thugs will be driven away – it will not happen overnight, but we will spare no effort to achieve this goal,” said the President.
The President who had been under immense pressure since the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State on April 14 this year, has also shown his readiness to offer amnesty to insurgents who would lay down their weapons and embrace peace. His words: “My government, while pursuing security measures, will explore all options, including readiness to accept unconditional renunciation of violence by insurgents, and to ensure their de-radicalization, rehabilitation and re-integration into the broader society…, our doors remain open to them for dialogue and reconciliation, if they renounce terrorism and embrace peace.”
It would be recalled that a presidential committee was set up last year to hold dialogue with Boko Haram and recommend ways to end its reign of terror, which began after the 2009 murder of the sect’s ideological leader and founder, Mohamed Yusuf while in government custody. The committee which submitted its report last November was chaired by the Special Duties Minister, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki.
The President lamented the fact that the gains of the past 15 years of democratic governance in the country were being threatened by the presence of international terrorism.
Jonathan said: “It is a sad fact that as I address you today, all the gains of the past 15 years of democratic governance in our country are threatened by the presence of international terrorism on our shores. Our dear country, Nigeria is facing a new challenge. A war has been unleashed on us. Extremist foreign elements, collaborating with some of our misguided citizens, are focused on an attempt to bring down our country and the democracy and freedom we cherish and celebrate today.
“The despicable abduction of school girls from Chibok in Borno State has brought to the awareness of the entire world, the heartless brutality of these terrorists who want to instigate a descent into anarchy and balkanize our nation.
“It is now 45 days since the horrifying abduction of the college girls of Chibok. I share the deep pain and anxiety of their parents and guardians and I assure them once again that government will continue to do everything possible to bring our daughters home”, he said.
President Jonathan urged Nigerians from all works of life to remain united to win the war against terrorism.
Speaking on the achievements of democracy for the past 15 years, he said the low key celebration notwithstanding because of the mood of the nation, “there can be no doubt that the past 15 years, the longest period of sustained democratic governance in our country, have been a blessing to our people”.
He said, “As a result of our collective efforts since 1999, democratic governance is now entrenched in our nation and institutions. I wholeheartedly believe that our people are the better for it. The scope of fundamental rights and liberties enjoyed by our people over the past 15 years has been expanded beyond measure.
“On my watch, we have witnessed high national economic growth rates, steady improvements and expansion of national infrastructure including airports and roads, the restoration of rail transportation, the efficient implementation of a roadmap for improved power supply, a revolutionary approach to agricultural production, as well as advances in education, sports, youth development, health care delivery, housing, water supply and other social services”, he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Youth Development, Mr. Boni Haruna, spoke in Abuja yesterday of the government’s offer of amnesty to the sect. The Minister disclosed this while giving an overview of youths’ position in the administration.
“President Goodluck Jonathan has also declared amnesty for members of the Boko Haram sect. Series of integration programmes have been lined up for the members of the sect who would surrender their arms and embrace peace,” said Haruna.