Sunday, 24 August 2014
APC IS MISCHIEVOUS AND TOTALLY UNINFORMED!-BLASTS REUBEN ABATI.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati has accused the All Progressives Congress, APC, of playing politics with the Chibok schoolgirls’ abduction. The presidential spokesman who said this during an interview with Punch also described claims credited to the APC that the $1bn loan the President is seeking to fight Boko Haram is actually meant for his 2015 election campaign as “irresponsible”. Reuben Abati also dismissed reports that the emergency rule has not been able to curb violence in some of the affected states,”President Jonathan has declared a state of emergency about three times now in the affected areas. By the second time the declaration was made, the scope of the terror reduced. Normalcy returned to the greater part of Adamawa and Yobe states.
At a time, all three states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa were in turmoil almost on a weekly basis. But that reduced because the security forces went in more vigorously and aggressively to the extent that the curfew that had been imposed by the state governments was eventually Lifted and all the markets and offices that had been shut were reopened.” Abati listed transport, infrastructure, education, economy, job creation, oil and gas, agriculture, trade and investment, foreign relations, governance as the President’s achievements that will merit him a second term.
Excerpt from the interview below:
How confident are you that Nigeria will win the current war against terror?
I am very confident that Nigeria will win the war against terror because it is not something that we can live with. Terror is evil and a country or a government cannot elect to live with evil. Terrorism is an assault against our common humanity and no government or country can afford to tolerate the kind of crimes against humanity and the kind of assault against human freedom that terrorism represents.
That is why the position of the President is that no matter how long it takes, whatever it takes, the war against terror must be won. This is because if we don’t win the war against terror, it will be difficult for us to achieve our development objectives.
Why has emergency rule failed to stop violence in the affected states, especially in Borno?
That is not true. The declaration of a state of emergency has been most useful. It is important to understand what a state of emergency is. Under emergency rule, the security forces are given greater scope to be able to deal with a threat situation. Certain restrictions under the constitution will be lifted so that the security forces will have greater latitude to be able to cover the entire territory.
President Jonathan has declared a state of emergency about three times now in the affected areas. By the second time the declaration was made, the scope of the terror reduced. Normalcy returned to the greater part of Adamawa and Yobe states. At a time, all three states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa were in turmoil almost on a weekly basis. But that reduced because the security forces went in more vigorously and aggressively to the extent that the curfew that had been imposed by the state governments was eventually Iifted and all the markets and offices that had been shut were reopened.
The unfortunate thing is that by April this year, the insurgents came back. It was like they retreated and regrouped. By that time, they had been restricted to only a part of Borno State from where they would come out, make incursions, and then disappear. Even with what we are witnessing now, government is again confronting them.
In the last one month, there have been reports of their intelligence chiefs being captured. There have been reports of their armouries being uncovered and many of their operatives being arrested. All these are parts of the operation to get the abducted Chibok girls back and break the hold of terrorists on the limited areas where they are still operating.
So it will not be fair to say that the state of emergency is not succeeding. The state of emergency has helped to deepen government operations, and convey a strong signal to the terrorists about government’s determination.
What is your reaction to the claim by the APC that the $1bn loan the President is seeking to fight Boko Haram is actually meant for 2015 election campaign?
The APC is misinformed, mischievous and that statement by the party is totally irresponsible. After the April 14 abduction of the girls, one of the first things the President did was to summon an expanded National Security Council meeting to which the governors were invited. He also subsequently called a Council of State meeting. At both meetings, the resolution by all the parties present was that the issue of terror is beyond politics and that it requires a bipartisan approach, that nobody should play politics with it because human lives are involved.
During the press briefing after one of those meetings, one of the APC governors was one of the spokespersons. He himself made it clear that that was what they agreed on. But after that meeting, what did the APC do? They went back to begin to play politics with the abduction of the girls and with terrorism. That is why I say that they are dishonest by playing politics with something that requires collective action and support. What government requires in its efforts is support and solidarity, not the kind of politics that APC is bringing into it.
The second leg of it is that the National Assembly is made up of people from every political party. The message that is out there from the National Assembly is that as a body, the assembly stands solidly behind President Jonathan in the prosecution of the war against terror.
On this issue of the $1bn which is to be used to further strengthen the security forces, the National Assembly has also said that the objective of the Federal Government is consistent with its own resolution that whatever is necessary must be provided to strengthen the fight against terror. That National Assembly is made up of every political party. And it agrees in principle that the war against terror must be prosecuted vigorously.
So if the APC secretariat is saying a different thing, to the best of my knowledge, that is not the position of the National Assembly which has the oversight responsibility to approve the loan.
Talking about the abducted Chibok girls, they have been in captivity for over 100 days. How long will their parents continue to wait for them to be reunited with their children?
President Jonathan met recently with the parents of the abducted girls, the girls that managed to escape as well as opinion and community leaders from the affected area. The President made it very clear to the parents that government is working very hard and security forces are also working very hard to ensure that the girls are brought back home.
Government’s priority is however not haste. Government’s priority is to ensure that these girls are brought back home safely. If there is anything that may jeopardise the operation, or result in the massacre of those girls, government will rather tread on the side of caution until it is able to make sure that those girls can be rescued safely.
The thing to note is that these same terrorists have boasted that if there is any kind of assault on them in a way they feel uncomfortable with, they will not hesitate to massacre the girls. We all want the girls back home safely; there is no question about that.
What would the President list as his achievements to merit second term?
I have already talked about the achievements of his performance-driven administration in various sectors of the economy: transport, infrastructure, education, economy, job creation, oil and gas, agriculture, trade and investment, foreign relations, governance and so on. President Jonathan promised Nigerians in 2011 that he will transform their lives positively and move this country ahead. He has kept that promise, he is still keeping it and he has chosen to remain focused on service delivery. He has not yet made any categorical statement about 2015, other than that when the time comes, he will do so.
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