Defence Minister under the regime of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, Theophilus Danjuma, made an urgent call on President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday, urging him to win the current war against Boko Haram insurgents.
Danjuma believes, like many people had said in the past, that the terror group appears to be having the upper hand over the country presently.
In fact, Danjuma, a retired Lt-Gen., told Jonathan to lead a movement to dreaded Sambisa forest, the base of the insurgents, since he was the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Danjuma spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, during inauguration by the President of the recently created Committee on Victims Support Fund to help government provide succour to victims of terrorist attacks in the country.
Danjuma is Chairman of the committee and would be assisted by Fola Adeola as Vice-Chairman.
In his acceptance remarks, Danjuma, one-time Chief of Army Staff, assured the President that he and other members of the panel were equal to the task given them, but to Sambisa forest, they would not go.
“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,” Danjuma said in a light-hearted manner.
He added: “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 but 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.”
The President had in his inauguration remarks jocularly tasked members of the panel to do their best in raising funds from across the country for the assignment at hand even if it meant going to the base of the terrorists in Sambisa forest, Borno State.
Jonathan said his government owed Nigerians a duty to stamp out terrorism in the land and urged every citizen to lend support, especially now that reality had dawned on them that they have terror-minded people in their midst.
He said the victims of terrorism in the country should not be seen as mere statistics but as family members, the survivors of who deserve empathy, assistance and succour in any form possible since lives could not be restored or broken limbs perfectly restored.
“I call on all Nigerians to stand together in support of our security agencies against terrorism. They are working night and day under difficult circumstances.
“It is unfortunate that when our security personnel prevent 1,000 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. The life of every Nigerian is precious and we will continue to work round the clock to put an end to this insurgency,” Jonathan said.
He added that the Victim Support Fund Committee was part of on-going efforts to provide a comprehensive solution to the terrorism crisis and appealed to all well-meaning Nigerians and non-Nigerians, individuals and cooperate bodies, to give generously to the Fund.
“Even in moments of deep despair, their supports have inspired hope in us that very soon, this too shall pass.
“Nigeria is a community of neighbours, kinsmen and friends. We have always looked out for each other. The entire Nigeria nation is one family.
“I, therefore, call on all Nigerians – students, youths, boys, girls, men and women – to pause today and spare a thought for the victims; and support them.”
Giving a vote of thanks, National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, assured Danjuma and other Nigerians that Nigerian security forces would win the war on terror, especially as they would now draw the battle line after initial hesitation to avert high number of civilian casualties.
“We will win the war, but there are some very hard choices that will have to be made.
“We have so been more concerned about the lives of a few versus the condition of a few millions. But the decision has to be made soon.
“This is not the first time we have been challenged by very senior Nigerians about the need to end this. We had a situation the other day with former heads of states, they told the President the same thing.
“But the constraints we are aware of and we do realise that the time has come to draw the line.
“As we have said, if they are taking the territories then we have lost the first role as far as I am concerned,’ Sambo said.
Still in search of funds to fight the insurgents, the President on Wednesday requested for approval of $1 billion by the National Assembly to enable government tackle the Boko-Haram menace in Nigeria.
Jonathan, in a letter to the Senate, explained that the money would be used to upgrade military equipment in Nigeria and also enable government partner with other governments.
The President told the lawmakers in the letter: “You are no doubt cognisant of the ongoing and serious security challenges which the nation is facing as typified by the Boko-Haram terrorist treat. This is an issue that we have discussed at various times”.
Senate President, David Mark, while reading the letter at plenary, reiterated that the money will be used to upgrade the equipment of the country’s armed forces.