News Column

FG Seeks U.S.$1 Billion Loan to Tackle Boko Haram Insurgency

July 17, 2014

Mohammed Bello, Senator Iroegbu and Jaiyeola Andrews

Determined to decisively tackle the menace of insurgency in the country, President Goodluck Jonathan in an urgent letter to the National Assembly has sought the approval of the lawmakers to borrow $1bn (about N169bn), in order to launch an all-out war against the terrorist sect, Boko Haram, which has wasted many lives and properties in the country.

The President who made his decision known yesterday in a letter he addressed both to the Senate President, David Mark and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, explained that the money would also enable the government to engage in what he described as government to government arrangement for equipment upgrade.

THISDAY had also reported that the Nigerian Army has started taking delivery of some critical assets amongst, which are two sophisticated helicopter gunships with inbuilt night vision technology capable of neutralising the nocturnal manoeuvres of the deadly terrorist group.

Both moves, as well as the others that have been taken in recent times, reaffirm the government's determination not to treat the terrorist group with kid gloves any longer.

In part, the president's letter reads: "You are no doubt aware of the ongoing and serious security challenges which the nation is facing as typified by the Boko-Haram terrorist threat. I would like to bring to your attention the urgent need to upgrade the equipment, training and logistic of our Armed Forces and security services to enable them to 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 arrangement for this upgrade. While counting on the steadfast support of the distinguished members of the Senate as always, please accept my assurances of highest consideration."

The latest request is coming on the heels of the 2014 appropriation, which gave the lion share of the nation's N4.964 trillion budget to defence.

The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, recently hinted that the military had already accessed N130.7 billion between January and April, 2014 while another N3.8 billion already approved by President Goodluck Jonathan was being processed and would soon be released to the military.

She explained that of the disbursed N130.7 billion, N85.9 billion was for personnel cost. According to her, "Defence spending is top in everything. You know that military establishments need new things to assist them in their work and ours will not be different. No budget will be enough to meet their demands but for now. I think the sector takes almost a trillion of the budget."

Inaugurates Victims' Support Funds Committee

To demonstrate his concern for the victims of the terrorist attacks, especially in terms of financial assistance, President Jonathan yesterday at the Presidential Villa inaugurated Victims Support Funds Committee in emotion-laden ceremony. The Committee is chaired by Theophilus Danjuma President Jonathan Wednesday said terrorists who take delight in killing and maiming innocent people have no hiding place, noting that they are enemies of humanity and must be fished out and brought to justice.

According to him, 2009 appeared to be a tragic turning point as Boko Haram, which he described an assemblage of heartless individuals, took it upon itself to bring evil on the country. The president added that the violent Islamist sect had in their mission, turned women to widows and reduced children to orphans.

"They have killed and maimed and struck fear into law-abiding citizens. They have destroyed villages, attacked property and terminated people's livelihoods without a care in the world. "They have engaged our security agencies in a meaningless warfare that has wasted unimaginable human and material resources.

"The reality today is that, we are confronted with individuals whose minds have been so twisted and tutored to believe they are doing God a service" Jonathan said.

He reiterated that evil will never prevail over good, saying the blood being wasted everyday by those who capitalise on the vulnerability of Nigerians to spread extremist doctrines and recruit them for murderous errands, are enemies of humanity.

The president assured that no efforts will be wasted in bringing the individuals responsible for crimes against humanity to justice.

He said the committee inaugurated, was to kick-start the process of providing succour to people who had been directly affected one way or the other by acts of terrorism in the country.

Jonathan stressed that "as a developing nation with lofty dreams, I would rather be here inaugurating a committee on development initiatives. But this is the unfortunate situation where we have found ourselves because of the lawless acts of a few misguided individuals who are shedding the blood of innocent people in our Nation.

"It is very necessary for us to refresh our memory before we proceed. Nigeria has not always been like this. In the past, it is true, we had communal and sectarian clashes. There is no human society that has been insulated from conflicts. But as a people created by God, we have managed to live within the realities of our challenges and have worked hard to strengthen the bond of our togetherness. "Even when we quarrel, we very quickly made up and largely lived peacefully together. At no time did we employ terrorism to settle our differences."

Continuing, Jonathan said the innocence of the country was defiled on December 25, 2009, when a 23-year-old Nigerian, Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear on North-west Airlines Flight 253, on his way from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan, United States.

Though the plan failed the lives of 289 passengers were saved, the president said it was one incident that finally confirmed that a few Nigerians had finally embraced terrorism as a way of life.

"Now we can no longer deny that terror has arrived our country with its ugly claws deployed! "For those who take pleasure in seeing innocent human beings in pains, to see limbs being shattered and blood flowing in all direction after terror attacks, we say, you shall have no hiding place. Nigerians will expose you. The people of conscience around the world have rejected you.

"We appreciate the support we are getting from foreign countries and the co-operation we are getting from our neighbours. This has given us more fillip and we are confident that the days of Boko Haram are numbered. It is now just a matter of time" the president. According to him, the nation's war against terrorism had been gathering momentum. The president called on all Nigerians to stand together in support of security agencies against terrorism. He said security agencies are working night and day under difficult circumstances.

"It is unfortunate that when our security personnel prevent 1000 attacks, it is the one attack that succeeds that makes headline news and tends to portray our security agencies as not doing enough. It is part of the realities we have to deal with. We owe Nigerians nothing but victory over terror.

According to him, the committee was part of on-going efforts to provide a comprehensive solution to the menace, adding that his government was determined to resolve the crisis. Chairman of the Committee, Theophilus Danjuma said, "one thing we will not do is to go to Sambisa forest. The commander in chief will lead and we will follow the commander in chief. "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 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.

"We will raise the funds, 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.

National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki assured that the war against terrorism would be won. "But they 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.

Military Intensifies Offensives Against the Militants

There are indications that the military has also intensified its air operations in the renewed offensive against Boko Haram terrorists, bombarding their positions in and around Borno State. This was confirmed in a statement yesterday by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) through its twitter handle @DefenceInfoNG.

According to the statement, the air onslaught was conducted to repel the insurgents in Dille town and surrounding settlements.

The DHQ however clarified that the operation was carefully conducted with precision despite the fact that the terrorists hide amongst the locals.

The statement read: "Air Operations conducted to repel attack of terrorists in Dille and environ on Monday was conducted in line with standard practice "Accordingly utmost caution in this Air operation was ensured even when terrorists are known to mingle with locals to escape being hit"

In a related development, the operatives of the Special Task Force (STF) in Plateau State have recovered over 218 cows stolen by rustlers in various parts of the state.

The report in the Defence website stated that some of the cattle were salvaged when troops carrying out special patrol to de-escalate cattle rustling were alerted to a group of youthful rustlers who had made away with some cows after killing herdsmen at Kanke town. The security forces who trailed and intercepted the rustlers were also reported to have taken one of the suspects into custody for preliminary investigation "after which he will be handed over to the appropriate authority".

In the same vein, the Special Forces were said to have carried out a separate operation that has led to the recovery of 30 cows from Panchiki village. "The cattle were recovered following a pursuit by the troops, compelling the rustlers to abandon the cattle. All the cattle have been returned to their rightful owners across the state", the report said.

TABLE ...ON THE TRAIL OF BOKO HARRAM S/N FG ACTION AGAINST BOKO HARRAM DATE 1 Nigerian army killed 11 Boko Haram insurgents January 28, 2012 2 A Joint Task Force raid on a Boko Haram den killed 5 sect members May 31, 2012 3 Nigerian Military arrests Boko Haram militants, reported death of Abu Qaqa September 19 2012 4 President Jonathan declared first state of emergency June 15, 2013 5 44 Terrorists, 4 Soldiers Killed in Battle of Sambisa 25.20 6 Second emergency April 25 , 2014 7 Paris summit: A summit in Paris declared Boko Haram is part of al-Qaeda as leaders from West African nations resolved to mount a region-wide offensive against the group that is holding more than 200 schoolgirls hostage in a dense jungle.

Western nations pledged to provide technical expertise and training to the new regional African effort against the Islamic extremists May 17,2014 8 Nigeria receives extradited Nyanya bomber, Aminu Ogwuche from Sudan 119.85 9 President Goodluck Jonathan seeks approval of the National Assembly to borrow $1bn to combat Boko Haram On the front burner

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Source: AllAfrica

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