The military has said the new strategies being employed by its new leaders have started yielding positive results with scores of terrorists surrendering to troops engaged in the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the North-east tagged: ‘Operation Lafiya Dole.’
The Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sani Usman, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday, saying that more terrorists and fighters are willing to surrender to the Nigerian military.
Usman listed the new strategies employed to include sustained offensive operations, pre-emptive air strikes by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and routes blocking by ground troops all geared towards constricting and snuffing out the Boko Haram terrorists.
He said: “Many of the terrorists that willingly surrendered painted images of mass panic and hysteria among their erstwhile colleagues who are feeling the noose tightening on their necks with the relentless efforts of troops and renewed vigour in operations inspired by the personal leadership of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS).
“Terrorists also seem to have an inkling of what happens to surrendered suspects as regards screening and de-radicalisation of innocent ones among them.”
Usman assured that the Nigerian Army in conjunction with the NAF and other security agencies would continue to devise and implement effective strategies to bring Boko Haram terrorism to a speedy end.
It will also continue, he added, to receive surrendering suspects and assured innocent ones among them that surrender is the only option open to them.
“The Nigerian Army wishes to also appreciate the great support and information it receives from well meaning citizens,” he said.
The army spokesman noted that more of the public support “are required to help towards quicker obliteration of the Boko Haram scourge in our nation.”
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said the fight against corruption was for the soul of the country.
He also said Boko Haram insurgents had been sufficiently weakened that they no longer have the capacity to occupy the North-east geo-political zone or any other party of the country.
Buhari, who was represented by Vice-President Yemi Osibanjo, spoke while addressing the second plenary meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, Igwuruta, near Port Harcourt.
The meeting was also attended by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike; Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Dr. Samuel Uche; and the Archbishop, Province of Niger Delta (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Ignatius Kattey.
The president said: “Our fight against corruption is not just a moral battle of virtue and righteousness in our land, but it is a fight for the soul and substance of our nation. Corruption in our country is so endemic that it constitutes a parallel system.
“It is the primary reason for poor policies, wastages and bare-faced theft of public resources. It is the main reason why a potentially prosperous country now struggles to feed itself and provide jobs for millions of its people.
“Hundreds of thousands of infant and maternal mortality statistics, hundreds of thousands of deaths from communicable diseases are traceable to the greed and corruption of a few.”
He said two-third of Nigerians live in extreme poverty, saying the country must
trail the paradigm of thinking about the economy.
His words: “We must trail the paradigm of thinking about our economy, and the ultimate goal of the majority. For one that will create an enabling environment for enterprises, we must reason, plan and budget with the understanding that two-third of Nigerians are poor. They must be helped, first to survive, and then, fully participate in the economy of the nation.
“Consequently, we must create tenets for the very poor and vulnerable while ensuring that social spending also resurrects investments in the economy. We must invest substantially in relevant education; teachers training and vocational and entrepreneurial training.
“The country is today experiencing its worst economic situation in decades. A terrible combination of waste, corruption and severe down turn in all earnings have drastically reduced our esteemed resources. We must urgently now find it in investing in infrastructure and all crucial components in the medium and long term means of diversifying our economy. Meanwhile, we must block all leakages and improve on our revenue base.”
The president stated that the military is now using vigilance and local intelligence to make it impossible for fighters of Boko Haram to regroup in the North-east or any other part of the country.
He said: “On security, we are on course to militarily route Boko Haram and make them incapable of taking over any territory. Suicide bombings in some parts of the North-east are desperate acts of terrorists to create a sense that they are still in play. But, with vigilance and local intelligence, we will make these cowardly acts practically impossible.
“We must however now turn our attention to the enormous task of de-radicalisation and re-orientation of the young people who had been led to believe in the rhetorics of Boko Haram. Part of the task that we have is in deconstructing the hopeless socio-economic circumstances that made young men and women rebel against their own society when they cannot see a future for themselves.”
Earlier in his opening address, President of CBCN, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, expressed the hope that with a new administration in power, Nigeria’s wasted opportunities will be recovered.
Kaigama, who is also the Archbishop of Jos, said: “As a Church, we continue to pray and preach that Nigerians should be altruistic and patriotic rather than being selfish and narcissistic. The tendency to promote, defend, and protect narrow personal economic, regional and religious interests have been responsible for our unstable national journey of one step forward and many steps backward.
“With the new administration in our nation, we have another window of opportunity and we hope we shall achieve the positive change that has become a national mantra. Our wasted opportunities must be recovered.”