In renewed effort to crush the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-Eastern part of the country, President Goodluck Jonathan has increased the number of troops in the region from 15,000 to 20,000.
The Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who stated this in a lecture delivered at a forum in London on Friday, also affirmed that over 170 teachers have been killed in Borno State alone this year as a result of the insurgency.
The minister also disclosed that the country loses more than 100, 000 barrels of oil per day to international oil thieves working in partnership with Nigerian collaborators.
Part of the text of the lecture read: “First on security, our military men and women are confronting an unprecedented challenge with courage and bravery. The president recently increased the number of troops that are in the North- East from 15,000 to 20,000.
“Regional cooperation on security has got better following a decision by neighbouring countries Chad, Cameroon, Benin, and Niger, to each contribute a battalion of soldiers, to fight Boko Haram alongside Nigeria.
“President Goodluck Jonathan has accepted offers from the international community for more surveillance, aircraft cover, and equipment that enhances our ability to locate, fight and root out insurgents.
“These efforts are beginning to make a difference and the tide is now turning. Not too long ago, the leader of the Boko Haram cell thought to have masterminded the kidnap of the Chibok girls was arrested”.
The minister also said Boko Haram’s key objective was to destroy formal or western education in Nigeria.
Stressing this point, she said, “This year alone, we know that Boko Haram has murdered over 170 teachers in Borno State, and an estimated 300 educational facilities have been destroyed in the three most affected states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe, including 80 primary schools in Borno State alone.
“Over a thousand Nigerians have lost their lives to these insurgents this year. We have not forgotten our Chibok girls and the government continues to search for avenues to bring our girls back alive”.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, who spoke extensively on efforts by the government to sustain economic growth which the nation has been witnessing, lamented that the nation loses more than 100,000 barrels of oil per day to oil thieves.
Decrying the devastating effects of corruption, the finance minister said through the deployment of Information Technology, the government had succeeded in identifying and eliminating 53,000 ghost workers and pensioners from government payroll.