• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Presidency urges British lawmakers not to pander to agents of anarchy

Northern region dominates as Buhari seeks confirmation for Supreme Court justices

Presidency on Thursday appealed to British lawmakers, legal experts and campaigners to join President Muhammadu Buhari in pursuing genuine solutions to Nigeria’s socio-economic challenges and not pander to agents of anarchy.

In a reaction to letter from the UK lawmakers, legal experts and campaigners on the current security challenges faced by the country, the Presidency said it is incorrect to assert that the government has done or is doing nothing to address these intertwined threats facing the nation.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu, said Nigeria welcomes the attention paid to the serious challenge by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and assured of the country’s readiness to work with them to bring a lasting solution.

“We seek to work with you, the Commonwealth and all concerned parties to bring a lasting solution to herder-farmer clashes, and the threat posed to all Nigerians -and the Sahel region as a whole – from Boko Haram terrorists and their allies,” Shehu said.

Presidency also called on the British colleagues to visit Nigeria, whether formally or informally, to discuss all the points raised in their letter.

“Our government is made equally of Christian and Muslim cabinet members; our Vice President is an Evangelical Pastor. We have everything to gain as a country through international cooperation with concerned, senior British parliamentarians and policymakers.

“The threat to civilians and peaceful co-existence between different ethnic and religious groups from Boko Haram, banditry and land disputes is of serious concern to the President and the government,” he said.

Presidency, while noting that there are on-going efforts for the establishment of cattle ranches to prevent or curtail open grazing, the practice that brings herders and farmers into conflict, said that these are age-old problem facing Nigerian Governments since the colonial days.

“However, matters of land distribution are dealt with at state level. This means willingness has to be shown by state governors to drive the process forward,” Shehu said in the statement.

Presidency explained that the Federal Government had launched a plan last year to work with states to address these issues – together, adding, “Unfortunately, this has been lacking in some states.”

“Secondly, with regards to the long and determined battle waged against Boko Haram, Nigerians are aware of the efforts made by this Government. When the government came to power, the terrorist group held and administered an area the size of Belgium. Now they hold none.
“The terrorists are hiding out amongst remote forests and across borders. This makes it difficult to extinguish the final flames of the insurgency, and the government has no illusions of the potent threat still posed. However, the progress made cannot be denied.
“Thirdly, in the face of rising crime and insecurity, the government’s new community policing initiative was launched this month. 10,000 new constables are being recruited from the areas they will safeguard – as opposed to past practice.

Presidency said government hopes this will bring policing closer to local communities, adding that N13 billion has been earmarked for this initiative.

“At the same time as we take note of the lawmakers’ letter, it is also important to stress to our partners and colleagues in the United Kingdom that not all who press them have the best interests of either democratic governance or peaceful coexistence in mind.

Presidency noted that the Nigerian Chief of Army Staff, named and quoted in the letter as a source on military matters, relinquished that position some 40 years ago – in 1979, adding that “ he therefore cannot be a natural source of pressure for good governance.”

“Another, signatory to the letter, is well-known to be associated with the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, a Nigerian-blacklisted terrorist group. The IPOB are running a well-known (source-of-financing-unknown) international campaign intended to damage the reputation of Nigeria and its government in order to further their cause of “independence”. He jumped bail in Nigeria.

“He frequently travels on a Nigerian passport but urged his supporters to burn their passports! The IPOB barely mention their aims in their publicity; neither do they mention that their own leadership do not claim to be Christian. Yet, their media and lobbying campaign has focused near-exclusively on promoting matters related to Christianity in Nigeria, promulgating false claims that a government with 50 per cent of its cabinet and 50 per cent of its State Governors who are Christian somehow works against Christians”