Chris Steven, Abuja
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Wednesday insisted that the military has largely met the deadline given to it by President Muhammadu Buhari to defeat Boko Haram, despite the recent attacks by the terrorists.
He said the Military has largely met with the December deadline given to them by President Muhammadu Buhari to end insurgency in the country noting that his assertions are backed by facts.
The Minister stated this in Lagos on Wednesday when he met with News and Political Editors of national dailies.
”In a few days’ time, the deadline issued by President Muhammadu Buhari to the military to defeat Boko Haram will expire. Without equivocating, I will repeat what I said that has sparked a firestorm: Our gallant military has largely met the deadline! I make this assertion with all sense of responsibility and they are backed by facts,” he said
He reiterated his earlier statement that the military has massively degraded the capacity of the terrorists to carry out the kind of spectacular attacks they used to execute in the past, like the attacks on the police headquarters and the UN Complex, both in Abuja.
Alhaji Mohammed also said that in just six months of the Buhari Administration, the Boko Haram that was in control of a territory larger than an entire geo-political zone in Nigeria ”has been reduced to a fleeing, bomb throwing, cowardly and disorganized army”.
”Among the areas where Boko Haram has been kicked out is Bama, which was the self-declared headquarters of their Caliphate. From there, they collected taxes, dispensed jungle justice, deposed and installed Emirs and hoisted their own flag. Today, the town is firmly in the hands of our troops,” the Minister said.
He said all Boko Haram can do now is to attack soft targets: Markets, Motor Parks, Mosques and Entertainment centres, killing innocent men, women and children.
”Not unexpectedly, the dying and desperate insurgents have carried out some attacks on soft targets in the North-east during this festive season. This is cowardly, dastardly and condemnable. We commiserate with the state governments and the families of those who died or were injured in the attacks which, as I said earlier, are like the death pangs of a dying horse
”These attacks are part of the propaganda that has been launched by Boko Haram and their fellow terrorists, ISIS, to seek to remain relevant in the face of massive routing by our gallant troops, and to also discredit our committed and patriotic troops. But the attacks do not shake our resolve a bit, in our determined quest to rid our nation of terrorists and ensure the security of our citizens
”The fact that Boko Haram has continued to carry out attacks on soft targets is not an indication that they still have capacity. As I have said many times, the attacks will not end with the expiration of the deadline, since insurgencies are not conventional warfares in which the guns could be silenced with an armistice. But I also said that the attacks will taper off with time, with better awareness among the citizenry and enhanced intelligence gathering by the security agencies,” the Minister said.
He challenged critics of his assertion that the military has largely met the deadline to take a trip to the epicentre of the war against terrorists in Borno state and then report to Nigerians what they have seen.
”The armchair critics who dispute these facts, from the comfort of their living rooms, are free to take a trip to the theatre of war to see things for themselves. Perhaps then, they will be more circumspecting in issuing reckless statements that give nothing but succour to Boko Haram. I have gone to the theatre of war to see things for myself. I did not just stop in Maiduguri, I went all the way to Konduga, Kaure and Bama which, as I said, was once the headquarters of the Boko Haram Caliphate,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
He also repeated his appeal to the media to stop glamorising Boko Haram with their reporting of the terrorists attacks, and hailed the newspapers that have already taken it upon themselves to push Boko Haram off their front pages.
”I want to appeal to other newspapers to follow suit and cut off the oxygen supply to the comatose Boko Haram (by denying the terrorists the publicity they so much seek). This is purely an appeal, as we have no intention whatsoever to censor any media organization,” the Minister explained.
Alhaji Mohammed also commended the Civilian JTF that has also played a major role in assisting the military to rout the terrorists, noting that what is now missing in the war is the civilian component.
”In this regard, we have kickstarted a campaign to raise awareness among Nigerians on the war, so that the citizens will not only support the war but they will also own it. It is the war for all Nigerians, not a war for the military alone.
”As the military enters the mop-up phase of this war, what is left now is the onerous task of resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction, especially in the North-east, which is worst-hit by the war. We appeal for support from all Nigerians in this regard, because the government alone cannot handle this task,” he said.