On behalf of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, the government and people of Nigeria, I bring greetings and good tidings to Liberians in general and to the women of Liberia in particular and all members of the International Community, for their expression of support and solidarity for efforts made by the Nigerian government to bring back about 219 Chibok secondary school girls who were abducted by the Boko Haram sect in the north eastern part of Nigeria. Such open identification has been made mainly by our Liberian sisters under the auspices of the Women NGO Secretariat, Liberia, the ECOWAS Women Civil Society Movement, the Mano River Union Women in Liberia. We are particularly overwhelmed by the show of solidarity which to us Nigerians, is a demonstration of our shared aspirations. The government and people of Nigeria sincerely appreciate the international outrage that has greeted this incident.
Indeed, Nigeria has received wide international attention in the past one month. We hosted the World Economic Forum Africa (WEFA) from the 7th to the 9th of May, 2014, in spite of the scaling up of the activities of the international terrorist group called Boko Haram. I would like to once again re-echo my President’s gratitude to the one thousand, one hundred people from 70 countries who participated in the WEFA. We appreciate the confidence reposed in Nigeria by their participation in spite of the fears that the insurgency as well as media propaganda presented. The repeated bombing and the abduction of the school girls were intended by Boko Haram to scare potential participants but they did not succeed. The successful WEFA boosted international confidence in the future of Africa.
The Embassy would like to use the opportunity of the celebration of Nigeria’s Democracy Day today May 29, 2014, to convey the following facts to our Liberian brothers and sisters:
I. Boko Haram insurgency is a declaration of war on the government and people of Nigeria;
II. with over 12,000 people killed since 2004, this insurgency is not a religious war. It is certainly not a case of Christians killing Moslems or vice versa. Moslems have been killed, mosques destroyed just as many Christians have also been murdered with churches demolished;
III. Boko Haram is not just a Nigerian Affair, it is a threat to regional peace and security as affirmed by the recently concluded Summit in Paris, France; and
IV. Boko Haram is not just a Nigerian Taliban, it is also a Nigerian wing of a Al Qaeda with its international network linking terrorist groups in Mali and Al Shabab in Somalia.
In response to this challenge, President Jonathan declared a State of Emergency in the North Eastern States of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe since the 15th of May, 2013 and was extended in December, 2013. President Jonathan has requested the Nigerian National Assembly to grant extension for a further 6 months.
To stem the tide of the insurgency, a new Division of the Nigerian Army, the 7th Division, has been established in Maidugiri, Borno State. The Nigerian government has adopted a multi-track strategy in containing the insurgency, which includes dialogue, engagement, empowerment (job and wealth creation, skills acquisition) education and re-orientation (Almajiri Schools), Cantonment (military option).
The abduction of the Chibok girls followed the slaughter of school children in Government Secondary School, Banu, Yobe State. These two incidents and the Nyanya bombings in April and May 2014, represent the most vicious and callous exhibition of terror and violence by Boko Haram bandits in recent times.
The Nigerian government responded swiftly to the abduction in Chibok by intensifying its search and rescue of these girls. It has received and accepted requests for assistance from the U.S., France, Britain, Israel, China and Spain. It is not envisaged that foreign assistance will go beyond technical advice, intelligence, equipment supply and air surveillance capability and entail deployment of foreign fighting forces on Nigeria’s soil.
President Jonathan participated in a Special Summit on Security in Nigeria, which was hosted by French President Francois Hollande on Saturday, the 17th of May, 2014. The Summit was attended by the Presidents of Benin Republic, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, as well as representatives of the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. Major Highlights of decisions taken at the meeting include:
a) Boko Haram declared as threat to regional peace and security;
b) The right of hot pursuit of terrorists;
c) Intelligence sharing among the countries in the sub-region;
d) Coordinated action for urgent rescue of the Chibok girls with the active support and cooperation of all the countries participating in the Summit;
e) Follow-up Ministerial meeting to be held in London in June, 2014;
f) Regional cooperation and the establishment of Joint Border Patrol with the 4 neighbouring countries;
g) Nigeria and its neighbours to build analysis and response capabilities that will contribute to enhancing the security of all populations and the rule of law in the areas affected by Boko Haram’s terrorist acts;
Nigeria and her neighbours decided to immediately:
On a Bilateral Basis –
i. implement coordinated patrols with the aim of combating Boko Haram and locating the missing school girls;
ii. Establish a system to pool intelligence in order to support this operation;
iii. Establish mechanisms for information exchange on trafficking of weapons and bolster measures to secure weapons stockfiles;
iv. Establish mechanisms for order surveillance.
On a Multilateral Basis –
i. Establish an Intelligence Pooling Unit;
ii. Create a dedicated team to identify means of implementation and to draw up, during a 2nd phase, a Regional Counter-Terrorism Strategy in the framework of the Lake Chad Basin Commission.
Efforts at the International Level –
i. The participants committed to accelerate the implementation of international sanctions against Boko Haram, Ansaru and their main leaders, within the UN framework as a priority;
ii. mobilization to support marginalized areas and their fragile populations, and particularly women exposed to violence;
iii. Pledge to mobilize donors in support of programmes fostering the socio-economic development of the regions concerned, with particular emphasis on gender equality, the rights of women and girls and in particular their right to education, increasing women participation in all decision-making processes, and supporting victims of sexual violence, including through legal assistance, medical care and psychosocial support. The EU will strengthen its efforts to combat radicalization;
iv. The participants agreed that the UK would host a follow-up meeting next month at Ministerial level to review the progress on this Action Plan.
If the comments said to have been made during a Voice of America interview which I read in one of the national dailies, credited to Madam Lemah Gbowee, is correct, it will be unfortunate to note that while many caring Liberian brothers and sisters continue to express solidarity and empathy for our Chibok girls, their families and Nigerians in general, there is one lost voice in the wilderness. That Madam Gbowee, instead of joining the increasing number of voices of reason, chose to address herself to a complicated issue that she knows little or nothing about, in the manner attributed to her, is regrettable. Madam Gbowee is overreaching herself to think that she can incite Nigerians against their own gentle and caring President. She should not ride roughshod over the pains of my people. Wisdom dictates that in difficult times such as we are currently facing as a nation, if one cannot help make the situation better, he or she should at least not make it worse. That is to say that if Madam Gbowee does not have anything constructive to contribute at this trying times for Nigeria, she should just watch God work His miracle for Nigeria through our able and capable President and our friends and supporters.
Every nation at one time or the other is confronted with a security challenge and Nigeria is no exception. The causes of Nigeria’s security challenges are rooted in the inherent and inherited structure of our country and its porous borders. As part of the Nigerian government’s Transformation Agenda, massive and fast tracked economic, educational and social programmes for Nigerians have been put in place by the current responsive government. It is wrong and unfair, therefore to blame President Jonathan for a problem he did not create but for which he has carefully taken all necessary measures to resolve.
Once again, I want, on behalf of my President and the good people of Nigeria, to thank Liberians for their show of love and concern. May God bless us all and save us from the scourge of international terrorism. We wish to assure our Liberian friends that with their support and prayers, and that of other concerned members of the international community, our girls will be brought back and Boko Haram and all shades of international terrorism will be defeated!