President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday said his government was determined to liberate all territories presently occupied by the Islamic militant group, Boko Haram.
Jonathan made this comment through his representative, Hon. Mohammed Wakil in Maiduguri during the flag-off of the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE).
He said the federal government is going to deploy all necessary resources to liberate all territories occupied by Boko Haram insurgents.
Reechoing the words of the Chief of Army Staff, the President declared that the armed forces are mobilizing human and material resources to reclaim lost territories and implement a Marshall plan for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and redevelopment of the insurgency ravaged North East region.
He said his administration is determined to tackle and defeat the insurgency at all cost, noting that the federal government’s agenda for the North East extends beyond ongoing military actions to measures designed to provide short, medium and long term solutions to the overall challenges facing the region.
He listed non- military interventions to include the Presidential Initiatives for the North East headed by the National Security Adviser; the Presidential Committee on the Distribution of Relief Materials headed by the NEMA Director General, Mallam Sani Sidi; Victims Support Fund chaired by former Defence Minister, Lt General T.Y. Danjuma ; and Safe School Initiative coordinated by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Okonjo Iweala.
Reaffirming presidential commitments to redeem the North-east, Wakil said the interventions are not political gimmicks but genuine holistic response to the root of challenges facing the region.
” It gives me great pleasure that the skill acquisition component of PINE is being flagged off today. 500 youths are to benefit directly from this empowerment scheme”, Wakil said, assuring that “PINE will be implemented fully with the full support of all stakeholders”
The minister told the IDPs that: “Our thoughts are with you; we share your pains; in fact, I weep with you all the time”
Also speaking at the occasion, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Abdul Bulama lamented that “these are trying times for us as a people when basics of our humanity is being tested by some evil elements among us. It is at times like these that we must demonstrate through our every action that good always triumphs over evil. We must reach out in true brotherhood to those affected by this insurgency. Let’s show them love and care at the time they need it most.”
He warned that: “We are in a dire situation as a people and we all cannot afford to play politics, let alone partisan politics, with the situation.”
Bulama tasked that: “We must all close ranks with a common resolve to rid our land of this strange trend of inhumanity, this we must all do in our various capacities as leaders, followers and stakeholders of the North-East region.”
He said: “The federal government has long realized that boots and guns alone cannot solve these problems in the Northeast. The underlying factors that have made the Northeast a fertile ground for this insurgency to thrive must ultimately be addressed holistically so as to stem the possibility of reoccurrence.”
The representative of Borno state governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima at the occasion, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume who claimed that he is one of the IDPs as his hometown, Gwoza, has been annexed by the insurgents, said apart from the National Emergency Management Agency which has impacted the lives of the displaced persons, other federal agencies established for such purpose are nowhere in sight.
He said that PINE is a lofty idea but would only receive commendation of the Northeast when the problem of insurgency is solved and the people relocated to their homelands and equally rehabilitated to live a worthwhile life.
The chairman of PINE, Prof. Soji Adelaja, who gave a short opening speech, said that the federal government has in place both short and long term programmes of intervention to change the fortunes of the region and assist it to match toward prosperity.
He revealed that in collaboration with Lintex, PINE is building the manpower of the North-east region, through skill acquisition and training Programme.