10 March 2014

Nigeria: Terrorism - Jonathan Confident of Surmounting Challenges

Photo: Vanguard
Boko Haram cartoon.

President Goodluck Jonathan Sunday in Abuja said with the strategies put in place, the federal government would soon surmount the challenge of terrorism being perpetrated by the Boko Haram sect in the North-east of the country.

Jonathan gave the assurance while speaking at the 2014 maiden edition of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) annual summit with the theme: 'Church and State Partnership in Providing Quality Education for the Nigerian People'. He re-assured Nigerians of the federal government's readiness to quell the ongoing acts of terrorism perpetuated by the Boko Haram Islamic fundamentalists.

While decrying the deterioration of values and morals owing to poor educational policies, the president expressed confidence in the ability of the federal government's efforts to confront the challenge of insurgency in the country headlong. "I urge you to pray for our dear country to speedily overcome the current challenges we face, especially insurgency, terrorism and the heinous killings of innocent children in schools," he said.

Condemning the wanton killing of students in Yobe State, Jonathan said: "I believe that with your devout prayers and the strategies we have put in place, we shall surely surmount these challenges."

Jonathan restated the readiness of his administration to partner the church, with a view to improving the standards of education in the country.

He commended the roles played by the Catholic Church and other Christian groups in the evolution and continued growth of western education in the country, which dates back to colonial days.

Senate President David Mark, who also deplored the menace and approach of the Boko Haram sect in the killing of students, noted that the brutal murder of the students was barbaric, adding: "I condemn the senseless and gruesome killings by so-called disgruntled elements.

"That's not the way to express grievances," Mark said, stressing that the act of killing students has no justification in whatever form. "I am deeply saddened by the gruesome killing of innocent students."

Also speaking at the occasion, the CBCN President, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, said Nigerians must patriotically defend the overall Nigerian interest through cherished values of culture to deepen democracy.

According to him, "The elections of 2015 should be about how Nigeria and Nigerians can become better and not what politicians stand to gain from the huge resources only waiting to be accessed by them."

The CBCN president explained that given the turbulent nature of the polity and insurgency in some parts of the country, Nigeria could no longer withstand further election crisis.

"We pray for a political campaign that is free of political abracadabra and win at all cost. Elections characterised by false alarms, needless court cases, hostile reaction of losers, the arrogance and insensitivity of winners and misuse of incumbency powers cannot catapult us into a political paradise," Kaigama submitted. On the forthcoming National Conference, the Catholic Bishops harped on more open deliberations devoid of ethnic colouration, and called for the right spirit in the discussion of national issues.

While imploring delegates to the conference to eschew tribalism, Kaigama observed that "the conference should truly be concerned about fundamental issues such as how to make our public and civil service officials more accountable, selfless and more devoted to duties, it should not be mainly concerned about sectional or regional interests."

The Catholic Bishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, in his sermon bemoaned the growing socio-political crisis in the country and called for concerted efforts to rid Nigeria of many of her troubles.

He urged Nigerians "not to be afraid to tackle the evil that overwhelms us. Despair and apathy only play into the hands of the evil."

Earlier, chairman of the conference and Director General of National Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Prof. Epiphany Azinge, observed that the conference came at an auspicious time when Nigeria needed critical discourse for better governance.

Azinge told the gathering that; "the timing of the conference is very instructive" given the current situation in the country regarding the educational system.

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