BEING TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE HON. MINISTER OF INFORMATION
AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, IN ABUJA ON WEDNESDAY 15 DECEMBER
Good morning gentlemen and welcome to this press conference.
- The polity has recently been awash with heightened commentary on
the security situation in the country. The commentary has been
triggered by genuine concerns in some circles, and crass politicking
or sheer absurdity in others.
- Since assuming office in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari has
continued to make the issue of security a major plank of his
Administration’s policy. This is not a surprise, considering the fact
that the fight against insecurity is one of the three priority areas
of the APC-led Federal Government.
- Yes, the security situation has continued to pose a great
challenge, but amidst the cacophony of voices – some genuinely
concerned about the situation and others ready to exploit it for
selfish ends – it is easy to forget where we are coming from. Today,
we only look at the current situation, without wondering what would
have been had this President not taken the bull by the horns, as far
as security is concerned.
- With the way the insurgents were going before this Administration
came into office, with their control of a vast swath of land the size
of Belgium, with their freewheeling attacks in almost a dozen states,
including the Federal Capital Territory which was hit at least five
times, perhaps they could have achieved their aim of declaring an
Islamic State in Nigeria, if President Buhari had not acted
decisively. After all, in 2014, Boko Haram declared a Caliphate in
Gwoza after capturing Bama and Gamboru as well as other towns and
villages in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. They installed their own Emirs,
collected taxes and flew their flag before the military dislodged
- Yes, banditry and kidnapping have added to the state of
insecurity, President Buhari has also continued to provide quality
leadership in order to ensure that our security agencies decisively
tackle the cankerworm of insecurity of any hue. No Administration in
Nigeria’s recent history has provided the security agencies with the
hardware needed to tackle insecurity as that of President Buhari, in
addition to raising the morale of our security men and women. Only
last week, Mr. President commissioned an armada of naval boats and
ships in the latest effort to enhance our nation’s maritime security.
The army, the air force and the police, among others, have also been
receiving modern hardware to strengthen their arsenal.
- The Administration has not concentrated on the kinetic measures
alone. Non-kinetic measures have also been strengthened. The
establishment of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs,
Disaster Management and Social Development to coordinate all
humanitarian affairs in Nigeria is a major effort at tackling poverty
and shrinking the pool of those being targeted for recruitment by
insurgents and bandits. Of course, the Federal Government’s
unprecedented and massive investment in infrastructure is also aimed
at boosting socio-economic well-being of the nation and further
reducing poverty, which is a major cause of insecurity.
- Despite all this, President Buhari has not relented, constantly
presiding over meetings of security chiefs to get an update and also
issue necessary directives, and not missing any opportunity to offer
succour to his countrymen and women, when necessary. The skewed
narrative in certain quarters that the President has not shown enough
empathy is glib talk. The President has also continued to work with
our neighboring countries and indeed our Western partners to tackle
insecurity, especially terrorism. With the entire Sahelian region
experiencing a devastating surge in terrorist attacks, more so in the
wake of the Libyan crisis, it has become even more imperative for
Nigeria to step up regional cooperation to more effectively tackle
insecurity – and that is what Mr. President has been doing.
- Gentlemen, President Buhari has done so much, under very
difficult economic and social conditions, to tackle insecurity in our
country. Not only has he done so much. President Buhari continues to
do much more to keep Nigerians safe. To say he has nothing more to
offer is untrue, fallacious and smacks of dirty politicking. By
boosting the number and capacity of our fighting forces, Mr. President
is putting them in good stead to tackle insecurity not just during the
life of his Administration but long after he would have left office.
President Buhari is leaving a legacy of security, infrastructural
development, economic prosperity and social cohesion for Nigeria. This
may not seem obvious today, amidst daunting challenges, but posterity
will be kind to this President.
- Please permit me to use this opportunity to commend the
military, police, civil defence and other security, intelligence and
para-military agencies for their continued service to the nation. It
is important to remember that our men and women in uniform sacrifice
their sleep and comfort so we can in turn sleep well. Even as we
continue to battle insecurity, it will be uncharitable on our part to
suggest they are not doing enough, or not to appreciate their
sacrifices. The recent massive surrendering of Boko Haram terrorists
and the huge pressure on bandits represent a testament to the
effectiveness of the efforts of our security agencies. We should
encourage them to do more, instead of pillorying them.
- Finally, while there is nothing wrong in the citizens expressing
their concerns over the insecurity in the country, we wish to say that
the use of incendiary and insulting words, especially by leaders of
all hues, can only overheat the polity and heighten tension. While the
government provides leadership, all Nigerians have a role to play in
securing our nation. Security is not the sole responsibility of the
security forces alone. We must not only support our security agencies,
we must also say something anytime we see something that hampers our
safety and security, as encapsulated in the mantra: ”If you see
something, say something.”
- I thank you all for your kind attention. I will now take your questions.