Former Defence Minister, Lt General Theophilus Danjuma (Rtd.), yesterday, lamented that insurgents appear to be having an upper hand in the country at the moment and tasked President Goodluck Jonathan to bring the insurgency to an end.
President Jonathan, on his part, is seeking approval of the National Assembly for a $1billion loan to enable him fight terrorism, saying that the days of terrorists are numbered.
Both President Jonathan and General Danjuma spoke in Abuja at the inauguration of the Presidential Committee on Victims Support Fund. The fund is for victims of the Boko Haram insurgency. The committee is headed by General Danjuma.
In his speech, Danjuma, who told the President jokingly that members of the committee would be willing to go to Sambisa Forest if the President, as Commander-in-Chief leads, challenged government to bring the insurgency to an end.
“But seriously, this war must be brought to an end. We must win this war immediately; it is taking too long. I called it civil war when it began and people say it is insurgency. The insurgents appear to be having an upper hand at this very moment. They pick and choose where to strike; they are even holding positions and displacing us. We must win this war, Mr. President, we must do so immediately”, he said.
General Danjuma promised that his committee “will raise the funds, and we will disburse it. I promise you we will do so diligently and transparently but we must win this war, Mr. President. May God bless our country”.
President Jonathan, who spoke earlier said: “The menace of terrorism has emerged as one of the most complex and challenging problems confronting governments in different parts of the world. Terrorists aim to cause social dislocation, spread fear and panic among the populace and disrupt government activities. But they never win. They have not won in the Middle East, in the USA, in China, in Colombia, in Italy, in the United Kingdom, in Kenya, etc. They will not win in Nigeria, and, with the support of all Nigerians, we would ensure they do not win in Nigeria. Good must prevail over evil,” he said.
Why we set up the fund — Jonathan
President Jonathan noted that the decision to set up the Victims Support Fund was to provide a framework through which all persons and institutions that wish to help mitigate the pains men and women are going through for no fault of theirs.
“We will ensure that those, who have suffered unjustly in the hands of terrorists can, in our little way, be consoled”, he said.
President Jonathan urged members of the committee “to go out there and knock on the doors of all hearts and institutions in a determined and focused way. I am confident you will raise the required resources to help rebuild some of our broken existence,” he said, adding jocularly that even if it means going to the notorious Sambisa Forest, members of the committee should do so.
“The Victims Support Fund Committee will help to mobilise collective efforts and resources in support for the victims. I appeal to all well-meaning Nigerians and non-Nigerians, individuals and corporate bodies, to give generously to this Fund. The victims need our sympathy and empathy. We have to show that we care and can never give way or give in to agents of evil.
“I, therefore, call on all Nigerians — students, youths, boys, girls, men and women — to pause today and spare a thought for the victims; and support them. This is not a task for the rich alone. Every widow’s mite will count, and will be appreciated. I urge Nigerians to donate generously, even through your GSM phones”, he said.
In his vote of thanks, the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki assured that government would take hard decisions to bring the war on insurgency to an end.
“There are some very hard choices that would have to be made. We have been more concerned about the lives of a few versus the condition of a few million. The decision has to be made soon.
“This is not the first time we have been challenged by very senior Nigerians about the need to end this. We had a situation the other day with former heads of state. They told the President the same thing. But the constraints we are aware of. We do realise that the time has come to draw a line. As we have said, if they are taking the territories, then we have lost the first role as far as I am concerned. At this point I will like to assure you and all Nigerians that we will win the war and God willing, we will do it quickly”, he said.
The terms of reference of the committee are:
lTo identify sources and ways of raising sustainable funding to support victims of terror activities;
lTo develop appropriate strategies for the fund raising;
lTo ascertain the persons, communities, facilities and economic assets affected by terror activities;
lTo assess and determine the appropriate support required in each case;
lTo manage, disburse and/or administer support to the victims as appropriate;
lTo address related challenges as may be appropriate;
lTo advise Government on other matter(s) necessary or incidental to support victims of terror activities.
Jonathan seeks Senate approval for $1bn loan
Meanwhile, President Jonathan has written the Senate, seeking an approval to take a loan of $1 billion for the fight against terrorism, especially the Boko Haram insurgency in some parts of the country.
President Jonathan in the letter addressed to the Senate President, Senator David Mark explained that the loan would be used to upgrade equipment, training and logistics of the armed forces and other security agencies.
While reminding the Senate of the ongoing onslaught by the Boko Haram sect on innocent Nigerians, the President noted that the issue of terrorism had become a great challenge for the country and that it needed to be tackled frontally.
Titled, “Tackling ongoing security challenges: Need for urgent action”, President Jonathan in the four paragraphed letter stated: “You are no doubt cognizant of the on-going and serious security challenges which the nation is facing as typified by the Boko Haram terrorist threat. This is an issue that we have discussed at various times.
“I would like to bring to your attention the urgent need to upgrade the equipment, training and logistics of our Armed Forces and Security Services to enable them more forcefully confront this serious threat.
“For this reason, I seek the concurrence of the National Assembly for external borrowing of not more than $1 billion, including Government-to- Government arrangements for this upgrade.”