Boko Haram held area size of Belgium before Buhari, now none — Garba Shehu boasts
The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, has claimed the Boko Haram “terrorist group held and administered an area the size of Belgium” before the administration of the All Progressives Congress but “now they hold none”.
Belgium officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. According to Wikipedia, the country covers an area of 30,689 km2 (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.5 million, making it the 22nd most densely populated country in the world and the 6th most densely populated country in Europe, with a density of 376 per square kilometre (970/sq mi).
Garba, who spoke on Friday while presenting a paper at the 10th anniversary of the Federal University Dutsin-Ma (FUDMA), Katsina, said Buhari deserves Nigerians commendation.
He said, “It is a fact that the Buhari administration is the only government of Nigeria that has put forward a workable solution to the herder-farmer challenge in all the years since independence.
“The threat to civilians and peaceful co-existence between different ethnic and religious groups from farmer-herders clashes, banditry and land disputes are of serious concern to the Buhari government.
“It is incorrect, however, to assert that the government has or is doing nothing to address the threats.
“Firstly, there are ongoing efforts for the establishment of cattle ranches to prevent or curtail open grazing, the practice that brings herders and farmers into conflict.
“This is an age-old problem facing Nigerian Governments since the colonial days. However, matters of land distribution are dealt with at state level.
“This means willingness has to be shown by state governors to drive the process forward. The Federal government launched a plan last year to work with states to address these issues together.
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“Unfortunately, this has been lacking in some states, and with regards to the long and determined battle waged against Boko Haram, Nigerians are aware of the efforts made by this Government.
“When the government came to power, the terrorist group held and administered an area the size of Belgium. Now they hold none. The terrorists are hiding out amongst remote forests and across borders.
“This makes it difficult to extinguish the final flames of the insurgency, and the government has no illusions of the potent threat still posed.
“Recent statistics have shown that over 14,500 boko haram members have voluntarily surrendered.
“However, the progress made cannot be denied. In the face of rising crime and insecurity, the government’s new community policing initiative was launched.
“Some 10,000 new constables were recruited and the process is on for another 10,000 to be recruited from the areas they will safeguard as opposed to past practice.
“The government hopes this will bring policing closer to local communities. N13 billion was earmarked for the initial initiative. Going by the plan, every year will see an additional 10,000 policemen.
“It is an opinion that the president’s comments on IPOB, which led the banning of twitter in Nigeria was controversial. For many it was not.
“President Buhari has therefore been warning against social media disruptive and divisive influences, and the government’s action is not a knee-jerk reaction to Twitter’s preposterous deletion of his tweet which should have been read in full.
“The tweet was not a threat, but a statement of fact. As a terrorist organisation, IPOB poses a significant threat to the safety and security of Nigerian citizens.
“When the President said that they will be treated “in a language they understand,” he merely reiterated that their force shall be met with force. It is a basic principle of security services response world over.
“This is not a promotion of hate, but a pledge to uphold citizens’ right to freedom from harm. The government cannot be expected to capitulate to terrorists”.