President Muhammadu Buhari has revealed that he could have deployed the Army and Police to overrun some states in order to win 2019 governorship elections for the All Progressives Congress (APC). He made reference to Adamawa and Bauchi states where APC lost to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the governorship elections.
Buhari said that he rather chose to provide a level playing field for all the political parties contesting the elections to demonstrate impartiality. The President made this disclosure yesterday during a security meeting with the governors from the North- East region of the country. The meeting, which held behind closed doors, was convened to discuss the worsening security situation in the war-ravaged region.
According to Buhari, his re-election for a second term in 2019 was an affirmation that Nigerians actually recognized that he was doing his best even when he admitted that he made some mistakes. “Nigerians, we thank God, understood us and they voted for us. In 2019, we went round the whole country, saying the same thing and apologising for not doing better, but we are doing our best. I think Nigerians believed us and we did our best.
“It is true that we lost some states as a ruling party in a developing country, which is normal. I am proud of that because we are impartial, that is why as ruling party, we lost some states. That means we have our own mistakes.
“Some of those that defeated us are sitting here. We know we are a developing country, but we respect our country. Otherwise, with the use of Army, the police and the rest of them, we could have overrun you. We just wanted to show that we are humane and we are Nigerians. We will continue to do our best,” he said. APC as a ruling party in Adamawa and Bauchi lost the states to the PDP governorship candidates in both states.
Governor Jibrilla Bindow of APC lost to the PDP governorship candidate and incumbent Governor Ahmad Fintinri in Adamawa in the 2019 elections. Also, Senator Bala Mohammed of the PDP defeated Governor Muhammed Abubakar. Buhari, who said that his government was battling with challenges of dwindling resources as well as the novel coronavirus global pandemic, also admitted that the military were not doing well in the fight against insurgency in the troubled region. He said that his administration was doing its best to ensure the safety of lives and property, especially in the North-East.
“We have problems of resources and security. You know what we inherited. The people of the North- East will appreciate what this administration has done. “The general report I am getting, other from the conventional ones from the intelligence sources, is that the Army should do better and this is the truth.
“It is so often coming to me that I have to believe it. I listened to your representation, by the governor who is on the hotspot now in the North East. Adamawa, Bauchi and the rest of them are enjoying peace. I hope they are respecting the sacrifice made by the military.
“I assure you that the government is doing its best. Lack of resources has hit us very hard. COVID-19 is a phenomenon. It has no respect for colour, you can’t smell it, you can’t see it, you can’t hear it.
America and us are the same. It is a fantastic phenomenon. I think we should all go back to God. “I assure you, the North- East governors, especially the Governor of Borno, that we go to bed and wake up thinking about you and how to secure our country.
That is the fundamental responsibility of a government – security. In our party, we recognise this. We campaigned on three fundamental issues: security, economy and fighting corruption,” he said.
Meanwhile, governors from the troubled North- East region of the country have tasked the President to tackle the root causes of insurgency in the region. They have also asked him to provide the enabling environment for the displaced people to return to their communities and farmlands.
Governor of Borno State and Chairman of the North-East Governors’ Forum, Prof. Babagana Zulum, who briefed newsmen after the security meeting, also disclosed that they had requested Buhari to further empower the police to be able to tackle the challenges of insecurity in the region.
According to Zulum, the meeting was sequel to a meeting of the North-East Governors’ Forum which held last Saturday in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. He said the meeting with the President was meant to brief him on the key challenges confronting the region.
The governor listed the issues as security, decaying infrastructure, oil exploration and the need to enhance the operations of the River Basin Development Authorities in the region, among others.
The governors, he said, commended the efforts of Federal Government in securing the region, but told the president that there was need for the central government to address the causes of insurgency, which, he said, were not limited to the endemic poverty and hunger. “One of the root causes is that of access to farmlands; people need to go back to their farmlands, people need to be resettled in their original homes so that they can restart their means of livelihood. This is one of the reasons the insurgents are recruiting more into the sect.
Therefore, creating enabling environment will enable the people to go about their normal duties and will, no doubt, reduce the cases of insurgency. “We also recommended that police should be empowered, to be provided with certain state-of-theart equipment, armoured personnel carrier and so on with a view to bridging the manpower gap that we are having in the Nigerian military,” he said.
On his outburst against the military after a recent attack on him and his convoy in Baga, Borno State, Zulum said he had held series of consultations with the military authorities and other stakeholders after the attack.
“I think security is not only about Federal Government, there is need for the federal, states and the local governments to come together with a view to providing solutions that will end this crisis in the region. “But most importantly, there is war economy in the region and I think that is why we are here.
So I think the government is taking a bold step with a view to ensuring speedy resolution of some of the gray areas that we have in the region,” he said. Chief of Army Staff, Lt- Gen. Tukur Buratai, gave an assessment of the current efforts, stressing that Boko Haram terrorists had been flushed out of all the states in the region, leaving Borno State as the last stop.
He said: “There are no Boko Haram terrorists in neighbouring states. They have been pushed out, and now cornered in Borno State. “We are coordinating with civil and traditional authorities, mobilising and reinforcing and all we need is patience. We will not relent.”
On his part, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, briefed the meeting on the acquisition of military aircraft, stressing that the imminent arrival of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), known as drones, with more than 10 hours of flying time, would strongly reinforce the battle front.
Apart from Zulum, other North-East Governors at the security meeting were: Ahmadu Fintri (Adamawa), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Darius Ishaku (Taraba), and Mai Mala Buni (Yobe).
Also present were the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; National Security Adviser, Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), and Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar; Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, and the Director General, Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi are also in attendance.
Also present were the Director General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufa’I; Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi and Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammad Dingyadi.