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Tackling scourge of banditry, terrorism remains Buhari’s priority Editorial– Presidency

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The Presidency says that tackling the scourge of banditry and terrorism remains Federal Government’s first priority, as President Muhammadu Buhari holds the victims and their families in his thoughts and prayers.

Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, stated this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja while reacting to Sunday’s Daily Trust editorial: “Life has lost its value under Buhari’s Nigeria’’.

The presidential aide described the editorial as unfair comments, saying Daily Trust’s suggestion that the president exchanges violence for the support he got electorally is beneath a publication that claims any kind of political neutrality or integrity.

The statement read in part: “Given the seriousness of the issue raised by the Daily Trust today, the Office of the President would like to issue a response.

“The growing instability and violence in the North of Nigeria and elsewhere is unacceptable. No one, not least the Presidency underestimates the seriousness of the situation.

“Everyday, the President holds the victims and their families in his thoughts and prayers. Above all, he wishes to reassure them – and all Nigerians – that tackling the scourge of banditry and terrorism remains this government’s first priority.

“Sadly, in this respect, Nigeria is not unique. Violence and terror have risen steadily across the entire African continent over the last decade.

“The Economist magazine in a recent publication wrote about “The Next Afghanistan”, warning the global community of the horrifying security in our neighborhood, citing specifically the states of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

“So we understand the frustrations of the Daily Trust and Nigeria’s northern communities about the ongoing challenges of security and the Buhari administration is no less worried.

“But it is only fair to say that Nigeria’s persistent and continued efforts to suppress that instability have seen results, with the terror group Boko Haram among others reduced to a shell of its former self.

“Yet, now we Nigerians face a new threat: the worst global health crisis in living memory. Even Nigeria that proudly holds the mantle of Africa’s largest economy is not immune from the debilitating economic impact of COVID-19.’’

According to the presidential aide, the economic instability that the pandemic has wreaked has proven an effective recruitment tool for bandits and terrorists across the continent.

Shehu, however, admitted that the Daily Trust had correctly identified the source of the violence as “an amalgam of many complex issues” such as poverty and unemployment.

“It is equally right to note that, in tackling the violence, “force alone will not be enough.” It is quite wrong, however, to suggest the problem of insecurity is intractable, and more wrong still to claim apathy on the part of the government.

“So what is the government doing?

“First, our military efforts have not let up. It is true that in the face of today’s growing number of threats from Boko Haram, kidnappers and IPOB to your run-of-the-mill bandits, our forces are stretched increasingly thin. But our dedicated soldiers are working around the clock to keep Nigerians safe.

“Second, alongside military force, this government is seeking to address the violence at its economic source.

“Massive infrastructure projects like the coastal rail and new train from the southern coast through the north-east to our neighbour Niger, aim to expand employment and opportunity across the country, bringing hope to our more remote and poorer regions where bandits and terrorists thrive.

“Third, even as the West continues to extricate itself from Africa militarily, we are lobbying our Western allies aggressively for partnership, investment and support in other areas,’’ he added.

According to the media aide, such areas include proscribing Boko Haram, bandits and IPOB as terrorist groups, which will severely dent their funding; for investment in trade and infrastructure, and to help lessen economic instability.

He said the western allies needed to help the country with technical assistance, advanced weaponry, intelligence and ordinance.

“This will likely be small comfort to the families and loved ones of those already lost. But make no mistake: this is a battle we are fighting without let up.

“The Daily Trust’s suggestion that the President exchanges violence for the support he got electorally is beneath a publication that claims any kind of political neutrality or integrity.

“Now is not the time for this sort of lurid political journalism.

“Now our focus as Nigerians must be on coming together and ending the violence. As President Buhari wrote recently of the terrorists in the UK paper, The Financial Times: “We will defeat them, one highway, one rail link – and one job – at a time.”

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No president will say there won’t be banditry next year — Lai Mohammed

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has said that no president will say banditry will next year.

Lai Mohammed said this while responding to a question on whether the current security challenges would end before President Muhammadu Buhari leaves office in 2023.

Responding to the question at a press conference on Wednesday December 15, Lai Mohammed said;

“Nobody, I’m not sure any president will say by next year there will be no banditry. It is just like saying by next year, there will be no thief.

“But what is important is that they should judge us by our achievement. We’ve not thrown our hands in the air. There was a time they asked us to hire mercenaries, but our soldiers are doing their best in these circumstances.”

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Buhari jets out Turkey for summit

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President Muhammadu Buhari will on Thursday leave Abuja for Istanbul, Turkey, to attend the third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit, hosted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the Republic of Turkey.

According to the organisers, the theme of the Summit is ‘‘Enhanced Partnership for Common Development and Prosperity’’ and the agenda includes reviewing the cooperation between African countries and Turkey since the last Summit in 2014.

This was disclosed in a statement by Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, on Thursday morning.

The third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit is coming on the heels of President Erdogan’s recent State visit to Nigeria during which several agreements in the fields of energy, defence industry, mining and hydrocarbons were signed to expand existing bilateral ties.

The Turkish leader had during the visit to Nigeria, affirmed his commitment to immediately expand the volume of trade between the two countries to 5 billion dollars and the Nigerian delegation will seize the opportunity of the gathering in Istanbul to enhance cooperation with other partners for more trade and investment opportunities in the country.

It is expected that the Summit would provide guidelines and direction for cooperation with African countries for the next five years.

President Buhari will be accompanied on the trip by his wife, Aisha Buhari; the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Defence, Maj-Gen. Bashir Magashi (Rtd); FCT, Mohammed Bello; Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; Agriculture, Mohammed Abubakar; Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo; the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (Rtd); and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.

The President is expected back in Abuja on Sunday, December 19.

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2023 presidency: I’m not going to turn it down – Tinubu

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The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has said he will not turn down the calls of those asking him to contest for president in 2023.

Tinubu stated this after a meeting with leaders of the Northern Alliance Committee in Abuja on Tuesday.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting, the former Governor of Lagos said he would, however, make consultations before officially announcing a decision on the matter.

“I’m not going to turn them down but I will still effectively and widely consult, particularly brainstorm with my friends and find a date to come out openly to tell Nigerians.

“But the president is still in office. I don’t want to distract him from all the challenges that he might face today.

“So, don’t muddle the political water. Consult, make our programme known to the people later,” Tinubu said.

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