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Violence not peculiar to Nigeria – Presidency responds to Daily Trust editorial

The Presidency has responded to Sunday's Editorial of Daily Trust on the widespread insecurity in the country.

The Presidency has responded to Sunday’s Editorial of Daily Trust on the widespread insecurity in the country.

In the piece, which went viral, and attracted so many comments, this newspaper made references to carnage being witnessed across the country, especially in the North.

From the burning alive of passengers by bandits in Sokoto, to the murder of Dr Rabe Nasir, former Commissioner of Science and Technology in Katsina, to the blood shed by bandits at a mosque in Niger State, among others.

In one of the thousands of social media comments on the editorial, Shehu Sani, a former Senator, wrote, “When the most prominent newspaper from the North has in its Editorial that ‘Life has lost its value under Today’s Buhari’, the question is; where are those from the North who defended the failure of this government and insulted all those who criticised or simply advised the same government?”

But in a response issued by Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, the presidency admitted that Daily Trust properly identified the source of the problem.

However, it said this is not peculiar to Nigeria, adding that the Federal Government is doing its best to reverse the ugly trend.

“Given the seriousness of the issue raised by The Daily Trust today, the Office of the President would like to issue a response.”

“The growing instability and violence in the North of Nigeria and elsewhere is unacceptable. No one, not least the Presidency underestimates the seriousness of the situation. Every day, the President holds the victims and their families in his thoughts and prayers. Above all, he wishes to reassure them – and all Nigerians – that tackling the scourge of banditry and terrorism remains this government’s first priority.

“Sadly, in this respect, Nigeria is not unique. Violence and terror have risen steadily across the entire African continent over the last decade. The Economist magazine in a recent publication wrote about “The Next Afghanistan,” warning the global community of the horrifying security in our neighborhood, citing specifically the states of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. So we understand the frustrations of the Daily Trust and  Nigeria’s northern communities about the ongoing challenges of security and the Buhari administration is no less worried. But it is only fair to say that Nigeria’s persistent and continued efforts to suppress that instability have seen results, with terror group Boko Haram among others reduced to a shell of its former self.

“Yet now we Nigerians face a new threat: the worst global health crisis in living memory. Even Nigeria that proudly holds the mantle of Africa’s largest economy is not immune from the debilitating economic impact of COVID-19. The economic instability that the pandemic has wreaked has proven an effective recruitment tool for bandits and terrorists across the continent.

“Indeed, the Daily Trust has correctly identified the source of the violence as “an amalgam of many complex issues” such as poverty and unemployment. It is equally right to note that, in tackling the violence, “force alone will not be enough.” It is quite wrong, however, to suggest the problem of insecurity is intractable, and more wrong still to claim apathy on the part of the government,” the statement read.

‘What government is doing’

Shehu listed some of the steps being taken by government to secure lives and assured Nigerians of a better tomorrow.

“First, our military efforts have not let up. It is true that in the face of today’s growing number of threats from Boko Haram, bandits, kidnappers and IPOB to your run of the mill bandits, our forces are stretched increasingly thin. But our dedicated soldiers are working around the clock to keep Nigerians safe.”

“Second, alongside military force, this government is seeking to address the violence at its economic source. Massive infrastructure Projects like the coastal rail and new train from the southern coast through the north-east to our neighbour Niger aim to expand employment and opportunity across the country, bringing hope to our more remote and poorer regions where bandits and terrorists thrive.

“Third, even as the West continues to extricate itself from Africa militarily, we are lobbying our Western allies aggressively for partnership, investment and support in other areas, such as proscribing Boko Haram, bandits and IPOB as terrorist groups, which would severely dent their funding; for investment in trade and infrastructure, to help lessen economic instability; and to help with technical assistance, advanced weaponry, intelligence and ordinance.”

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