By Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity)
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the Nigerian military in collaboration with armed forces of neighbouring countries have made tremendous progress in the war against insurgency since the inception of his administration.
Speaking Friday at the graduation ceremony of Course 27 at the National Defence College in Abuja, President Buhari said: “This occasion affords me another opportunity to briefly reflect on the state of the Nigerian nation, particularly regarding national security. At the inception of our first tenure in 2015, Nigeria was at a critical crossroad. The Boko Haram Group was at the height of its infamy and virtually held Nigeria hostage. It constituted a clear and present danger to our corporate existence as a nation.
“After four years of gruelling work, I can report the progress that we have made in tackling the security challenges, with the combined efforts of our regional coalition partners, the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies, diverse government agencies, national and international development partners as well as local traditional leaders.
“We have spared no effort to rid the nation of terrorism and insurgency and associated national security and humanitarian challenges. I particularly thank the Armed Forces and other security agencies for their patriotic efforts. I also thank all our development partners and foreign governments for their invaluable contributions.”
He also restated the determination of his administration to promote national security and development: “We remain committed to promoting a vision of a secure, safe, just, peaceful, prosperous and strong nation. Indeed, we shall be employing all elements of our national and human resources to ensure security, a just society, peaceful co-existence, national unity, prosperity and sustainable development, while promoting our good standing abroad.”
The President however acknowledged that there were prevailing security matters that the administration was battling with.
“In spite of the commendable progress, the Nigerian state is still beset with some existential and fundamental challenges. The Boko Haram for instance, having lost their insurgency campaign, now factionalised and mutated into a new form of terrorist threat.
“Armed banditry and vandalism, kidnapping, pastoralist/farmers conflicts, cultism and political violence have become the new threats. Other issues such as proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons, drug trafficking, drug and substance abuse and communal conflict, all add up to the security mix.
“Furthermore, the state of education, the youth bulge, unemployment, socio-political and ethno-religious divisions, fake news and hate speeches all help to quicken and compound the security challenges.”
President Buhari commended the graduands for the hard work they have put in to become worthy of the certificates they have been awarded:
“I congratulate the National Defence College Course 27 graduands and their spouses for your hard work, endurance and deserved success.
“You have gone through the crucible, you have endured short nights and long arduous days, you have passed the test of fire and today is surely your day of glory. Let me specially congratulate graduands from friendly nations for consolidating the bilateral relationships between our nations. Your participation in the course is a further testimony of our national security policy aspirations to promote international peace, friendship and cooperation.”
The Nigerian President enjoined them to see their graduation as a call to duty in the service of their countries, stressing that their nations required the newly acquired knowledge for developmental plans.
He equally praised the leadership of the National Defence College for keeping the flag flying after 27 years, training senior officers of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and strategic Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as military officers from friendly nations.