Abuja — President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday ordered the service chiefs to rid the nation of the security threats confronting it and ensure the protection of lives and property of citizens in the country.
The president specifically ordered the security chiefs to deal decisively with the threats posed to Nigeria's corporate existence and its citizens by Boko Haram, the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), herdsmen and kidnappers.
The president also warned the identified groups against anything that could tamper with Nigeria's unity, insisting that the nation's corporate existence was not negotiable.
Buhari issued the order when he held a three-hour meeting with service chiefs in the State House, Abuja.
Present at the meeting were the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, and Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar. The Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ekwe Ibok-Ibas, who was not present at the meeting, sent a representative.
Responding to questions from newsmen after the meeting, Olonisakin said they briefed the president on security issues in the country which he said the president had himself been following when he was away on medical vacation.
According to him, the president instructed them that the nation's unity was not negotiable and ordered them to ensure that Nigeria's corporate unity was sustained.
Olonisakin said the meeting reviewed all security threats in the country, including terrorism, kidnapping, herdsmen/farmers' clashes as well as the threat from IPOB.
Olonisakin, who said the military would ensure total compliance with the president's directive, also disclosed that Buhari asked them to ensure that the troops fighting Boko Haram effectively discharged their responsibilities.
"We have been meeting with Mr. President for the last three hours. All we have done is to update him on all security issues around the country, within the country and outside the country where our troops are.
"Of course, we have just updated him because he is aware of what has been happening.
"He was receiving regular briefings from the acting (vice) president and he was reading the print and electronic media to follow events in the country.
"After the meeting, he directed us on some areas we should look at so as to enhance our operations in the country.
"He talked about the unity of the nation which is non-negotiable. We have all been fully instructed to ensure that the directive is carried out to the letter.
"The issue of security, every security threat, all security threats were treated one after the other, ranging from terrorism to kidnappings, herdsmen/farmers' clashes, to the IPOB issue, were all treated. Comments were made as to what to do as regards to each of the issues.
"Every security issue, like I said, was treated and we are going to enhance our operations in all the areas that we need to. Like I said, he has given the necessary directives, which will be carried out by the military and the security agencies.
"The assurance is that he also directed that we must ensure that the lives and properties of all citizens are protected and we must make sure that we secure the whole nation and also that troops that are outside carry out their jobs effectively.
"On the Boko Haram issue, you all know it is an asymmetric warfare. It is not that Boko Haram has stepped up its game. It is just the issue of suicide bombing that has been the problem and of course, we are also working with the security and intelligence agencies to make sure that we address that menace," he stated.
Completion of Second Niger Bridge
The president's directive to the service chiefs came just as the presidency assured the South-east geopolitical zone that the administration would complete the Second Niger Bridge, build roads and provide other infrastructure in the zone.
The presidency made the pledge when it received a coalition of youths from the zone who stormed the gate of the Presidential Villa to declare their support for the president.
Buhari returned to the country on Saturday after spending 103 days in London for treatment of an undisclosed ailment.
Receiving the youths on behalf of the president, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the solidarity march was another affirmation of Buhari's acceptance in all parts of the country, adding that the show of support was also an attestation to the fact that irrespective of the campaign against Nigeria's unity, the country would remain one.
He described the campaign for Nigeria's disintegration as a failed move, pointing out that Buhari would deploy all powers within his reach to keep the country together.
"On behalf of President Muhammadu 'Okechukwu' Buhari, I have received this letter and I say thank you all. The fact that a coalition from the South-east region has come to mount this solidarity rally for him is very significant because some mischief makers always say that the South-east region is not with the president. That is not true.
"It was in the South-east region that he was given the name Okechukwu during the campaign. It was in the South-east in Abia precisely that Eze Ikot Nne gave him a traditional title.
"So we know that every part of this country approves of the leadership of President Muhammadu Okechukwu Buhari.
"Last week, youths from the South-south region were here to also show their solidarity with him. This gives us confidence that no matter what anybody does, no matter the antics of people who plot mischief, Nigeria will remain one.
"You must have heard our president yesterday in his nationwide address when he said whatever it takes, Nigeria will be kept together. And I tell you, whatever it takes this president, he will keep the country together.
"Therefore, anybody who is planning something else should know that it's just a mere waste of time.
"It is like beating a dead horse which is a sheer waste of energy. Nigeria will remain one. President Muhammadu Buhari will keep the country together.
"As we speak, he is meeting now with his service chiefs on how to enhance security in the country. You know when there is security, there will be development. When there is security, you can guarantee that the economy will grow. When there is security, we can face our businesses. Our businesses can thrive.
"So whatever it takes to secure the country, President Muhammadu Buhari will do so along with other people in government. I want to thank you very much and assure you that this letter will get to him.
"All the things you have said there including the demands, he will see it. And I also want to promise on his behalf that the South-east will get its due during this time of President Muhammadu Okechukwu Buhari.
"The roads in the region will be fixed. The Second Niger Bridge will be done. Everything - infrastructure, positions, offices - all that the center needs to do for the region, the South-east region will get its own fair share. Thank you very much. God be with you all," Adesina said.
The convener of the group, Steve Anyata, said the Coalition of South-east Youths drew its membership from the five states of the South-east with the intention of drumming up support for Buhari and rejecting the recent protests calling for his resignation.
He also said the visit was meant to pray for Buhari and equally pledge their loyalty both to him and the country.
Anyata also drew the attention of the president to the quit notice given to the Igbos living in the north by a coalition of northern youths when he was away, a situation which he said had been of great concern to many Nigerians.
He said though Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had worked assiduously to douse tensions, the president should further give the matter accelerated attention.