Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
A group, North-East Coalition Against Terrorism (NECAT) has called on the federal government to fast track the process of rebuilding the North-east which had been ravaged by Boko Horam insurgents.
The group made the call in Abuja during a solidarity march on Aso Rock Villa.
The however, expressed their gratitude to the present administration in its effort to crush the Boko Haram insurgents.
The show of solidarity came some days after the terror group engaged the military in a fierce battle that lasted for several hours in their daring attempt to capture the 113 Battalion at Kareto close to the border with Niger Republic, and a subsequent ambush on the convoy of the acting General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Victor Ezugwu when he was en route to visit troops in Bama, Borno State.
The ambush however resulted in the death of one soldier and two others who sustained injuries from the attack, while the attack on Kareto left two officers and 22 soldiers wounded.
Speaking, the President General of the group, Alhaji Babangida Halilu said normalcy is now returning to the affected states. According to him, “those who are not familiar with the reign of terror that we endured may find it difficult to relate with what we are talking about.
“We have heard people making comments like there is no need to specially acknowledge soldiers and their commanders because they are only doing what they signed up for; but for us, we know this is not the right spirit and approach towards people that risked their own lives and comfort to free our homelands from Boko Haram occupation.”
“The period Boko Haram overran towns and villages in the North-east were times of utter despair that is completely devoid of hope. They were days that we reckon our life expectancy in minutes and hours as we were never certain we will see the following day.
“The next bomb blast, the next gun massacre and the next killing spree by the terrorists was a matter of could occur in a matter of hours; or a matter of a couple of meters from where one would be standing to the extent that all of us in the region were dead men walking. This sense of helplessness was compounded in no small way by the diversion of the funds meant for equipping the military.
“Life was restored to the region with the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari, who true to his campaign promises, showed leadership and the political will to quash the terrorists group and end the reign of terror by the insurgents. Mr President’s commitment found expression in his appointment of new Service Chiefs that have demonstrated that the Armed Forces of Nigeria are formidable force to be reckoned with,” he noted.
The President General stressed that the people never thought that peace would be restored to the extent that they can start working on reviving businesses and industries.
He explained that the military’s achievement in the region has allowed state and local governments to be functioning now, while citizens are going about rebuilding their businesses.
The group however appealed that, “the momentum be sustained until we heard the last of Boko Haram. The provision of arms, equipment, funds and leadership that turned the tide against Boko Haram should be sustained until we see the last of terrorism. The political support that emboldened the Army to charge into battles should be intensified.
“We further appeal that the promised intervention for rebuilding the northeast should be fast tracked. It will be a great joy to us if private businesses get some consideration in addition to the public sector that has been targeted for rebuilding,” it said.