The Federal Government on Thursday told critics that President Muhammadu Buhari won’t resign over Saturday’s killing of some farmers in Zabarmari, Borno State, by Boko Haram.
Their calls were cheap, irresponsible and amounted to playing politics with security, Information, Culture and Tourism Minister Lai Mohammed said.
‘’Mr President was elected in 2015 for a four-year term and re-elected in 2019 for another four-year term. No amount of hysterical calls for resignation will prevent him from serving out his term… Therefore, calling on the President to resign every time there is a setback in the war on terror is a needless distraction and cheap politicking. Let’s stop playing politics with the issue of security’’ , he said.
The minister reiterated the claim that the sect had been ‘’badly degraded’’, adding that the killing was not a ‘’true reflection’’ of the progress being made by the military against Boko Haram.
‘’The truth, which will rankle some people, is that Boko Haram can only carry out cowardly attacks like the one against the defenceless farmers. No nation, no matter how powerful, is immune to attacks on soft targets. September 9/11 happened despite the prowess of the most powerful army in the world’’, Mohammed said.
He was speaking at a meeting with media chieftains at the secretariat of the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) in Maryland, Lagos.
At the briefing were NPAN President Nduka Obaigbena, Vanguard Publisher Sam Amuka-Pemu, (popularly known as Uncle Sam), and one-time Managing Director of Daily Times and former Ogun State Governor Olusegun Osoba, among others.
Boko Haram struck in Zabarmari six days ago, killing scores of farmers. The official casualty figure was put at 43. The Senate, on Tuesday, said it was 67, but the Abubakar Shekau faction of Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for the attack, put the figure at 78.
There have been calls for the resignation of the President and the sack of Service chiefs over the incident. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it was time for Buhari to go since he could not handle the situation.
The Senate said the government had failed to secure the country and, for the upteenth time, asked that the Service Chiefs be removed.
On Wednesday, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, said the President had agreed to address the House of Representatives on the security situation. The House resolved on Tuesday to invite him. No date has been fixed for the address.
The Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) asked President Buhari to resign if he could not secure the nation and ensure the protection of lives and properties of citizens.
NEF spokesman Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement said: “Northern Elders Forum (NEF) joins Nigerians in expressing outrage at the killings of farmers in Borno State and many other people on a daily basis in many parts of the North. Our voices have been raised without pause for a long time against pervasive insecurity in our region.
“Under this administration, life has lost its value, and more and more citizens are coming under the influence of criminals. We do not see any evidence of a willingness on the part of President Buhari to honour his oath to provide security over Nigerians.
“In civilised nations, leaders who fail so spectacularly to provide security will do the honourable thing and resign. Our voices have been raised without pause for a long time against pervasive insecurity in our region.
Describing the farmers killing as an act of cowardice and savagery by a group of deranged terrorists, Mohammed said it was a sign of weakness on the part of Boko Haram, especially after suffering huge setbacks in the hands of the military.
‘’The modus operandi of a losing terror group is to go after soft targets in order to stay relevant. It’s not only Boko Haram that does that. In 2019, Al-Shabab attacked DusitD2 Complex in Nairobi, Kenya, killing more than 20. Similarly, the Peshawar school massacre of 16th December 2014 in Pakistan carried out by six gunmen affiliated with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, left about 150 people dead, most of them students. Let’s also note that fighting terrorism is assymetric war, as opposed to conventional war, hence even the best military in the world still suffers occasional setbacks in this kind of war’’, the minister noted.
He claimed that before the President assumed office in 2015, Boko Haram ‘’could stroll into any city, especially in the north, to carry out deadly attacks. Abuja, the nation’s capital, Kano, Maiduguri, Jos, Damaturu etc were regularly targeted. Motor parks, churches, mosques, shopping complexes were not spared. Today, that is a thing of the past.
‘’Detonating Improved Explosive Devices (IEDs) used to be a deadly tactic of Boko Haram. Today, that has changed. Boko Haram used to occupy territory, deposing and installing emirs and collecting taxes. That is no longer the case. These changes are not mere happenstance. They are part of the successes recorded by the military, under this President.’’
Mohammed claimed that Boko Haram shared the video claiming responsibility for the attack to instil fear in the people and to remain relevant in the eyes of its sponsors.
He said there was no truth to the reason for the sect’s action, and urged the public for information that could lead to the end of the war on terror.
The minister also spoke on the #EndSARS protests, social media, fake news and disinformation, Lekki shootings and the CNN report, and urged NPAN to do ‘’a painstaking review of the coverage of the protest and its aftermath as a guide for the future.