• Asks elite to embrace change
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Dakar, Senegal assured the international community that the end of Boko Haram terrorists was in sight, saying the Nigerian armed forces have taken over Sambisa Forest.
A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, said Buhari spoke at a meeting of the panel of Heads of State at the third Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa,
The president said also hailed the increased cooperation between Nigeria and its neighbours in the fight against terrorism.
The president also assured the international community that the security situation in Nigeria had improved significantly.
‘‘About a month ago, I spoke with the President of Chad and I was pleased that a number of Chadians and Nigerians that were Boko Haram members are surrendering to him en-masse. The good news I have is that the end of the rainy season has come in the North-eastern region of Nigeria.
‘‘Members of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) are in their respective positions and at an agreed time, they will move simultaneously and spontaneously for us to see the end of Boko Haram. We are now operating in the Sambisa Forest and as far as Boko Haram is concerned in the Lake Chad Basin area, I think they are done for,’’ the president declared.
Highlighting the gains of the cooperation among the Lake Chad Basin Commission countries comprising Chad, Niger, Cameroun, Benin Republic and Nigeria, the Nigerian leader told the gathering that Boko Haram was no longer holding any territory or local government area in his country.
‘‘Those who live in the North-east know that Boko Haram is no longer holding a single territory in the 774 LGAs in Nigeria. But they have a system of using IEDs and they indoctrinate mostly teenage girls and send them to soft targets to churches, mosques and market places. That too is becoming very rear.
‘‘I think Boko Haram shot themselves in the foot when they gave their ideology a religious connotation by killing children in their schools, people in the mosque and churches and shouting Allahu Akbar.
‘‘This is a major contradiction as no religion advocates hurting the innocent. You can’t kill people and say Allahu Akbar. You either do not know what you are saying or you don’t believe it,’’ Buhari said.
Noting that Nigeria was capable of surmounting its security challenges, he appealed to the international community to focus more attention on addressing piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and unemployment in Nigeria.
‘‘In the southern part of the country, stolen Nigerian crude is being illegally transported through the Gulf of Guinea and installations offshore are being subverted. We also have the problem of unemployment in Nigeria. With a population of 180 million people of which 65 per cent are under the age of 35, young Nigerians are looking for any kind of job to survive.
‘‘We are addressing the situation (unemployment) by turning to agriculture and solid minerals because we are lucky to be blessed with arable land, water and resources,’’ the president noted.
Also, the president has called on the Nigerian elite to stop insisting that things should be done the ‘old way,’ which impoverished the nation.
A statement by Shehu, said Buhari spoke yesterday at a meeting with a group of Nigerians in the Diaspora, on the margins of the third Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa in Dakar.
The president said his administration was on the right track to improve the image of the country by entrenching accountability and probity in governance.
Buhari told the 11-man Nigerian delegation of association leaders resident in Senegal and Cote D’ Ivoire, that the last 16 years of poor handling of the nation’s resources and infrastructure have continued to impact negatively on the country.
“This administration is pleased we won the election, we are pleased Nigerians are cooperating with us. But the problems are so enormous that we need the cooperation of Nigerians, particularly the elite.
“They (elite) should reflect on the condition of the country, and stop making expensive demands because things cannot be done the old way,’’ the president said.
On the welfare of Nigerians in the Diaspora, Buhari assured them that the federal government would continue to promote good neighbourliness and improve the negative perception about Nigerians abroad.
“Nigerians are known for their competitiveness and I am very passionate about Nigeria. I will continue to preach good neighbourliness and work hard to improve the numerous human and material resources in the country,’’ he said.
In his remarks, the President of the Nigerian community in Cote D’ Ivoire, Alhaji Adebayo Yahaya, commended the president for his bold and unflinching fight against corruption, saying “Nigerians are praying for your success, don’t relent, do not lose hope, the almighty God is behind you.’’
Also speaking, the President of the Nigerian community, Senegal, Mr. Osas Edigin, told the President that Nigerians in the country had enjoyed excellent relationship with their hosts.