Chris Steven, Abuja
Following the successes recorded so far in the fight against Boko Haram in the North East, the National Coalition Against Terrorism (NCAT) has urged remnants of the sect to surrender in the interest of peace.
The coalition also urged the backers and sponsors of the sect to sheath their sword so that peace can fully return to the North East.
National Coordinator of NECAT, kuanum Terrence said this at the opening of a mega peace rally held at the Ramat Square Maiduguri to sensitize residents and hand over the responsibility for winning the peace in that part of the country to them.
He said the mega rally was initiated because of the realization that each citizen has a role to play in bringing about lasting peace even in the aftermath of the terror that Boko Haram insurgents have unleashed on the country and the North East geo-political zone
His words: “It is instructive that this mega rally is holding in Maiduguri today, Maiduguri is not just the capital of Borno state or the economic hub of the north east geopolitical zone, it was also the epicenter of the activities of Boko Haram terrorists.
That this rally is holding here today is a testimony to the progress made in taking back our land from the grip of evil that had threatened to consume us but which has now been thankfully.averted.
We have Our Dear President Muhammadu Buhari, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to thank for this feat of being among the few locations on earth where the evil of terrorism has been halted within such a short time.
Only those that experienced the north east before Mr President’s assumption of office can fully appreciate what has happened here; this, here, was the same area where residents had given up hope of ever returning to but today the process of rebuilding our lives has begun in earnest. It was all down to the resoluteness of President Buhari who gave the marching order to his trusted military chiefs to defeat Boko Haram within a stated time frame.
“We are grateful to these great military chiefs for turning the tide and winning the war. Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai; Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar; Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Ibok Ette-Ibas and the leadership of the other security agencies are warriors to whom we owe debt of.gratitude.
“The General Buratai led Nigerian Army, notably troops of the Operation Lafiya Dole has our thanks. These gallant Nigerians made sacrifices, with some paying the supreme price, for us to be here today. We thank their families for the great thing their breadwinners and loved ones have done for us to be alive and dream of a better future.
“We crave your indulgence to specifically and most respectably single out the COAS, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai for particular mention. This recognition is for the gallantry and leaderhip style of General Buratai who saw to the effectual relocation of the Crisis and Control Centre of the war on insurgency to Maiduguri. Nigerians were proud and had their hope in the system restored when we saw Lt. General Tukur Buratai with his troops in the theatre of war coordinating the strategies that led to the eventual defeat of Boko Haram.
One can also not forget to mention seeing the COAS in the theatre of war with officers and men during Sallah and Christmas throughout the dark era to prove to us and all Nigerians that the Nigerian Army is not only a congregation of “talk and do men” but men who keep their promises to the fatherland. These gallant and patriotic officers have written their names in gold and posterity will not forget them in a hurry. Let me add that these are the true heroes of our nation, the pride of the African nation.
“We thank the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who has done much to dispel the propaganda mounted by Boko Haram backers who usually attempt to paint the picture that is over for us in the north east while equating our situation to places like Libya, Iraq and Syria. The Honorable Minister has done much in organising tours and visits for media and activists. This has done much to prove to people that as Nigerians with resilient spirit the of the north east have weathered the storm and are rebuilding their lives to make the area an even better economic and tourist.destination.
“We salute the Executive Governor of Borno State, His Excellency Kashim Shettima, who has done much to provide the corresponding civilian component to match the military determination to end terrorism in our land. His Excellency has come up with many initiative and as the leader of the state he has shown the direction needed to return us to an era that is better than what existed before the mindless destruction of Boko Haram was visited on us. The governor has seen to it that persons that are displaced by the crisis are not abandoned and this is critical to restoring peace.
“We acknowledge the efforts of the Civilian JTF, other stakeholders and elders that have worked with Governor Shettima and the federal authorities in regaining peace for us. Their efforts have made meaningful impact. They have shown the extent of what is possible when a people unite for a common cause.
“It is in recognition of these notable contribution that we have organized this rally in the aftermath of the defeat of Boko Haram in Samibisa Forest with the capture of the terror group’s Camp Zero. We were all personally in Sambisa to see for ourselves. We realize that Boko Haram fighters are fleeing after their loss in Sambisa Forest. We also know that instead of accepting their defeat they are attempting lone attacks that they intend would be misconstrued for their group still being potent. This is why we believe that it is time to activate the citizens’ component in the war on terrorism and this is because we believe that the population should step in now that the military has done the larger part of the work. We realized that after being blocked from buying vital military equipment for fighting the anti-terror war, our military was able to adapt homegrown solutions and still went on to have the upper hand over Boko Haram. Other countries are now studying the Nigerian approach in their quest to defeat terrorists.
“Our thinking is that Nigeria can further blaze the trail by evolving more homegrown approaches to winning the peace now that Boko Haram has been routed. We should find solutions without waiting for people who do not know better to come and lecture us on how to stabilize our own society that had existed before they even knew us.
“We therefore know that these fleeing Boko Haram fighters are not ghosts – they have relations among the population, they have neighbours, they have persons with shared ancestry and some must have had interactions with members of society before the terror group recruited as indoctrinated them”