PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari says his administration is successfully tackling the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East region of Nigeria and that people in the area can now sleep with to eyes closed.
Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, quoted Buhari as saying this while addressing Nigerian professionals practicing in the US and Canada.
The parley was organised by the Special Adviser to the President on diaspora matters, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
“I’ve tried to do my best since I came. Security-wise, we are better. Boko Haram still conducts cowardly attacks, but the insurgency is not the same as it used to be,” Buhari said.
“They are terrorists and have nothing to do with religion. We will continue to deal with them. Ask people in the North-east, especially in Borno State, they will tell you they can sleep with two eyes closed now.”
However, it may not be exactly correct that citizens in the North East “sleep with two eyes closed”, as recent reports from suggest that Boko Haram is far from having been defeated as has constantly been claimed by the government. Though the insurgents are not known to still hold any territory at present, they have continued to attack civilian locations as well as military formations with some degree of frequency.
On September 1, about 48 personnel of the Nigerian Army (two officers and 46 soldiers) were reported killed when Boko Haram attacked a military post. “Scores of Nigerian troops were killed in successive attacks between mid and late July, raising fresh concerns about a resurgent sect amongst top military chiefs. At least 90 soldiers have now been confirmed killed within the past six weeks,” Premium Times reported at the time.
Buhari also assured his listeners that if he wins a second term, he will do better. “If I win the next election and I survive the next four years, I will do better… I will leave some difference in that office,” he said.
The President added that the so-called elites have never supported him, perhaps because they are corrupt, but that his greatest supporters over the years had been the ordinary citizens.
He said: “In 1983, military officers gathered and made me Head of State. I packed the politicians into jail, told them they were guilty until they could prove their innocence. We seized what they had looted, but after I myself was put in detention, the politicians were given back what they had looted. How many elites complained about that?
“Three times I contested elections; three times I went to court after the elections were rigged against me. No justice, but I said ‘God dey.’
“It was mainly the ordinary people that stood by me. That is why I am always conscious of them. They are my constituency. Even pregnant women on the queue would fall into labour, go to have their babies, and still come back to vote for me. I will keep doing my best for the country.”
The President invited those in the diaspora to come home and invest in the Nigerian economy especially in the education sector.
“You are contributing to this great country (America). If you want to help back home, invest in education in your constituencies. If you educate people, they won’t then accept nonsense from anybody,” he said.
Buhari traveled to the United States to participate in the United Nations General Assembly which held in New York.