President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday disclosed that his administration still has decisive military action on the cards to tackle the growing militancy in the Niger Delta.
He made the disclosure in Kaduna on Saturday at the passing out parade of officers’ cadets of the 63 regular course of the Nigerian Defence Academy.
The president, however, added that his administration’s priority still remained constructive engagement of the stakeholders in the region for peace.
He said: “Recently, we flagged off the Clean-up of Ogoniland as part of the programmes to salvage the ravaged environment. We are convinced that undertaking such a monumental project will contribute to addressing the root causes of militancy in some parts of the Niger Delta region.
“However, for the avoidance of doubt let me state that other options are still open including decisive military action, if necessary, to deal with the criminal elements disguised in ethnic regalia to sabotage the country largely for their selfish and parochial interests. However, our priority still remains constructive engagement of the stakeholders for peace. Buhari recalled that this administration inherited a badly managed Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, saying the violence even spread beyond North Eastern states.
“But the capacity of the insurgents to launch attacks has now been significantly curtailed. Boko Haram’s capacity to hold territories has been obliterated. What is on-going now are mop up operations to clear the remnants of the insurgents from their numerous hideouts. All these successes are largely the efforts of our gallant troops of the Nigerian Military. I therefore commend our men and women in uniform and the intelligence community for their roles in dealing with the emerging threats”, he stated.
Describing terrorism and insurgency as new global phenomena requiring concerted international cooperation to be defeated, Buhari said: “We’ve, therefore, strengthened our participation in the Multi-National Joint Task Force. We expect that other countries in the sub-region will continue to give the MNJTF and our efforts maximum cooperation. Some of our diplomatic shuttles to Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Benin have significantly contributed to defeating Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in the sub-region.
“Terrorism has a global reach: during my trips to the United States, Europe and China, we discussed strategies to strengthen cooperation towards tackling insurgency and global terrorism. These diplomatic shuttles have contributed towards strengthening our battle against the insurgents. But we must sustain our momentum”.
The president also noted that “Today’s challenges, however, go beyond Boko Haram, saying “We’ve seen the negative impacts of kidnapping, cattle rustling and renewed militancy in the Niger Delta on our economy. The repeated attacks in the Niger Delta have been impacting negatively on oil revenues. The scourge of illegal Small Arms and Light Weapons, and the drugs war among others remain issues which we are tackling seriously”.
He, however, called on all Nigerians “to give peace a chance and jettison negative tendencies on our land and join government efforts at addressing the numerous challenges in the path of building a better Nigeria”.
He said as his government tackled the challenges of nation building and sustainable development, the military should continue to operate within the rules of engagement.
According to him, “The military needs to constantly abide by the laws which guide armed conflicts as you carry out your constitutional roles. Without this, you will be doing a lot of damage to the institution and the constitution as a whole. It is the extent to which you respect the laws of armed conflicts that success in the real context of global best practices will be measured”.
Mr. Buhari acknowledged the openness with which information flows to the public these days on military-civilian relationships.
“In addition, we have facilitated engagement between local and global stakeholders in the civil society. I note with delight the conscious effort of the armed forces to safeguard human rights of citizens but which the insurgents violate at will”, he added.
The president also congratulated the leadership of NDA and thanked members of its governing council for providing a well-focused and transparent strategic direction to the academy.
The passing out parade comprised of 59 cadets for the Nigerian Army, 40 for the Nigerian Navy and 29 for the Nigerian Air Force.