President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday met with members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) Security Council and others over the security challenges in the country.
The meeting ended with calls for a joint strategy to bring various conflicts to an end within time limits.
It also agreed that field commanders should take measures to protect civilian communities, as a confidence-building mechanism between the military and those communities.
According to a statement by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, it is hoped that when the trust that has been lost between both parties is re-established, there will be improved cooperation in intelligence-gathering and sharing.
The meeting also agreed that poverty and youth unemployment are at the root of the security challenges in the country, and need to be addressed with greater vigour by all tiers of government.
It also focused on Nigeria’s security policies and approaches in tackling the internal security challenges with a charge that intelligence-gathering and sharing must be optimised for the nation to secure itself.
Security, Intelligence Chiefs Queried President Buhari presided over the three-hour meeting attended by the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, as well as the heads of defence, security, and intelligence agencies.
Members of the Security Committee of the NGF, represented by a governor from each of the six geo-political zones, joined the meeting virtually.
In his remarks, the President used the opportunity to dismiss the assumptions that the terrorists in the North East had far more weapons and money than the government.
He stressed that what was left of them were “mere scavengers desperate for food, raiding shops and markets, and killing innocent persons in the process.”
President Buhari was also worried that in spite of the fact that borders with neighbouring countries had been shut, bandits and terrorists continued to have access to small weapons.
“These terrorists are in the localities. How is it that they are not short of small arms?” he was quoted as querying the security and intelligence chiefs.
The President stated, “We have said enough on the need for them to rejig their operations. I am glad that there are better synergy and cooperation which are very important.
“I have directed the service chiefs to meet among themselves in-between the National Security Council meetings. The services have resources; yes, they need more, and mobility, and are doing their best, but there is a need for better gathering and interpretation of intelligence. Our intelligence-gathering must be improved.”
He also informed the governors of the imminent shipment of military weapons and aircraft from Jordan, China, and the United States.
Bailout For Security President Buhari, however, called for patience on the part of the people, saying it was important that trained fighters and pilots who must first receive appropriate training man the new weapons and aircraft.
He commended the level of support from neighbouring countries in the war against terrorism in the troubled North East.
“They are cooperating with us. On Boko Haram, we are making progress with Benin, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon,” he said while restating that intelligence-gathering must improve to be able to track small arms in the Northwest, North Central and Northeast States.
The President was also satisfied with the level of naval activity in the Gulf of Guinea, using newly-acquired equipment.
But he demanded that hard-to-reach areas of Lake Chad, where Boko Haram terrorists have found new havens, as well as the forests now inhabited by bandits, must be accessed and rid of nefarious elements.
“The Chief of Defence Staff has spoken about their study of the forests and their potential danger to security.
“We must make sure we follow the bandits and terrorists, but there must not be deforestation in view of the climate situation,” President Buhari said.
In their submissions anchored by the NGF Chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, and Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State, the governors highlighted the problems of poverty, unemployment, trust deficit between the military and civilian populations, and the inflow of small arms into the country.
They also noted the problem of coordination among military and security chiefs and played up their own security roles which included the $1 billion they allowed the President to withdraw from the Excess Crude Account for weapons procurement two years ago.
The governors, therefore, urged the President to consider a “bailout” for security for the states in view of the enormity of the resources they now expend in support of the military and the police.
President Muhammadu Buhari is again meeting with members of the Nigeria Governors Forum Security Council and Service Chiefs at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The meeting which is taking place at the Council Chambers has in attendance, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, the National Security Adviser (NSA) Major General Babagana Monguno (retd), the Chief of Staff to the President Prof Ibrahim Gambari and Heads of other security agencies.
Some of the governors joined virtually, they are Chairman of the NGF security council and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, Governor of Bayelsa State Senator Douye Diri, Governor of Borno State Babagana Zulum, Governor of Ebonyi State David Umahi, and Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Others are Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai is represented, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, and the Director-General, Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi.
Also in attendance were the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufa’i, Chief of Defence Military Intelligence, Air Vice Marshall, Muhammed Salihu Usman, the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, and the Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammad Dingyadi.
The Northern Governors Forum has condoled with a prominent Islamic Scholar and leader of the Tijjaniyya Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, over the death of his wife, Aishatu Dahiru Usman Bauchi.
Chairman of the forum and Governor of Plateau, Simon Lalong, made the condolence in a message on Monday in Jos.
The condolence message was issued by Dr Makut Macham, the Director of Press and Public Relations to Gov. Lalong.
Lalong described the death of Sheikh Bauchi’s wife as a huge loss, not only to the family but to many who depended on her love and goodwill, saying the death had created a vacuum which would be difficult to fill.
He said the Northern Governors grieved with his family and the entire Tijjaniya Movement.
The governor said her legacies would continuously be cherished and her memory honoured.
Lalong urged the revered Islamic Scholar and members of his family to accept the sad development as the will of Allah, trusting that Allah will comfort them and give the family the fortitude to bear the loss.
The governors of the 36 states of the federation are currently meeting on the platform of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) in Abuja over deductions for Budget Support Facility loan granted them by the Federal Government.
The meeting is presided over by the Chairman and governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi.
Federal Government had in September, begun deduction of the N614 billion bailout funds it gave to states for payment of salaries of workers in 2016.
In October, the governors kicked against the plan to extend the repayment period of its budget support to state governments from 20 to 30 years.
The Federal Government had explained that the monthly repayment had reduced from N252 million to N162 million based on the extension.
The forum will review the agenda of the National Executive Council meeting scheduled to hold on Thursday at the Aso Rock Villa.
It would also deliberate on the immediate actions required by the governors on Seattle Declaration on polio eradication.
The Conference of Speakers of State Houses of Assembly would also brief the governors.
The governors will also receive briefing from the Deputy High Commissioner of United Kingdom, Harriet Thompson, on the country’s investment forum, among other items listed for discussion.