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Monday, 11 August 2014

I don’t known when the Chibok girls will return… Senator Musiliu Obanikoro

The Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, in an interview with journalists, spoke on the on-going efforts by the Federal Government to end the insurgency in the Northeast, the reforms in the military, politics in his home state of Lagos and the national level, among other issues.
Despite the efforts by the security agencies, attacks by Boko Haram have continued and the Chibok girls kidnapped over 114 days ago are yet to be rescued. How did we get here?
I think it is important we approach this issue of our war against insurgency within the context of a global security concern. Nigeria is not alone in the war against insurgency and that is why we have adopted a wide range of sub-regional and international collaborative approaches towards addressing the scourge of Boko Haram. How we got to where we are today is unfortunate. What began as a Northern Nigerian problem has metamorphosed into a Nigerian problem. Everyone is now affected. The consequence of years of mass illiteracy and the politics of underdevelopment in the North has contributed to birthing the scourge called Boko Haram. But this is not a time to trade blames and all hope is not lost. As we continue to explore the strategies of a military operation in putting an end to the Boko Haram insurgency, we are also committed to the developmental components of the war, which serve a preventive and restorative purpose. The Safe Schools Initiative and the Terror Victims Support Fund championed by President Goodluck Jonathan are clear examples of our government's determination to deploy the right mix of both military and developmental strategies in winning this war against the enemies of our collective humanity.
Do you have reasons to believe Nigeria is winning the war against Boko Haram?
Yes, there are challenges here and there, but I am a fervent believer in the principle of evil being conquered by good. For us, the challenge of fighting terrorism is new; it has never been part of our national life. It will take some time to overcome.
Our troops may never have all the money they need as is the case with most military systems in the world, but Nigerians must have faith in the capacity that we have built in these men and women as they are among the best trained in the world.
The military have always had budget for the purchase of equipment of all kinds year in year out. Why is it that for over 25 years they never purchased the equipment you mentioned, till now?
Don't get me wrong. Acquisitions have been made over the last 25 years but the point is, some of the kind of acquisitions we are now making today have not been done in the past 25 years. Essentially, what I am saying is no administration has upgraded our defence architecture the way the administration of Goodluck Jonathan has done.
You have been at the forefront in calling on citizens to support the military in the on-going war against terror. How do you think this can be achieved?
In my entire public service experience from being a local government chairman, a commissioner, a senator, an ambassador and now minister, I have never seen where government succeeds alone by itself without the support of its citizens. Not to even talk about fighting a war against insurgents within our territorial borders. So, I maintain that the war against insurgency cannot be won by our military alone. And this is why I have always appealed to Nigerians to support our troops morally and with whatever information they have at their disposal that can help in fighting this war.

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