12 May 2014

Nigeria: Insurgency - APC, Presidency in War of Words

The All Progressives Congress (APC) and the presidency has sharply disagreed over the government handling of the security chllenges plaguing the country.

On its part, the APC renewed its call on the National Assembly to probe the huge federal government allocations to the Ministry of Defence in the last few years, saying the military failed in the war against insurgency due to lack of capacity.

The chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande, who said this yesterday in Lagos at a world press conference on the nation's security situation, said it was regrettable that the country which has been at the vanguard of maintaining peace in other countries since 1960 is facing security challenges because the ruling party misappropriated funds meant to strengthen national security.

Akande said, "To ensure that our military is not saddled with responsibility without empowerment, we have called on the National Assembly to institute a probe into how the huge allocations for security in the recent years have been spent, whether the men and women we are sending to battle are properly equipped and whether funds meant for the prosecution of this war are being judiciously spent.

"Today, we renew this patriotic call to the National Assembly, with a strong belief that it will yield a positive outcome and help turn the tide in our battle against these terrorists".

In the face of government's apparent failure in crushing Boko Haram, the nation's leading opposition party avers that the country can defeat terrorism if it embraces a critical and non-partisan look at the present security quagmire.

As a way forward, the APC helmsman who said it is no longer time for apportioning blames and recommended that the country should immediately develop or publish a counter-terrorism strategy.

"Presently, there is poor coordination between military means and political and economic objectives. There is currently no publicly known counter-terrorism strategy guiding the response to Boko Haram," he said.

He added that the country needs to obtain more timely and actionable intelligence from local sources in the areas affected by Boko Haram, just as he also suggested the establishment of an office for the coordinator, Special Anti-Terrorism.

According to the party, "The solution to preventing, limiting and responding better to Boko Haram attacks does not lie in deploying more troops but in improving intelligence and increasing force enablers. The fight against Boko Haram will be enhanced if government focuses on these two elements."

APC also urged the embattled President Goodluck Jonathan's led administration to pursue and align military with political negotiated solutions, saying Boko Haram is unlikely to be defeated militarily as most insurgencies are ended through some form of negotiation.

But in a swift reaction, the presidency yesterday described Chief Akande's comment - the the country is on autopilot - as unpatriotic and a cheap lie meant to score political gain.

Special adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on media and publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, who warned that this was "not the occasion for politicking, campaigning about 2015 and trying to run down the country" said it was people like Akand "who run down their country that are creating problems for the country.

"If Chief Akande wants to be honest with himself, he will say the truth and the truth will be that this country has been moved forward by President Jonathan, that we are not at the level we were at the time President Jonathan assumed office in 2011. So, to say the country is on auto pilot is unpatriotic because it is a lie", Abati added.

He said it was wrong for the chairman of the APC to use the abduction of the girls in Chibok "to engage in partisan blackmail." Abati said, "The issue of national security should go beyond partisan politics.

"This is a very serious moment requiring seriousness. But to reduce all of that to partisan politics is in bad taste, it is irresponsible one-upmanship", he insisted.

Arguing that the country was not on auto pilot, the presidential spokesman said, "There is a government in place. There is a president who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He is doing his very best to provide quality leadership."

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