*Jonathan commends zone for saving the day when NGF turned a ‘monster’
Nigerian Army on Monday commenced a major operation to put an end to the activities of all armed men and criminal gangs who have been engaging in wanton killing and destruction of lives and property in three states of North Central part of Nigeria. Troops have already been deployed for a major offensive which is covering Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau States.
The Internal Security Operations is meant to capture and neutralize all the enclaves of criminal gangs. The Nigerian Air Force, Police and other security agencies are also participating in the operation designed to restore peace in the affected states.
Law abiding citizens are enjoined to cooperate by providing timely and useful information to facilitate the operation as it affects their localities.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday said his administration has adopted new security architecture to enable it checkmate the activities of insurgents as well as other elements across the country.
This is even as he, for the first time, admitted that the crisis in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) almost derailed his government, adding that it was the support from most governors of the North Central, that saved the day when the NGF turned into a “monster”.
Jonathan stated this when he had audience with 300-member delegation of the North Central stakeholders of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), led by its former chairman, Ahmadu Ali, who were on solidarity visit to him at the State House.
In the delegation were Senate President David Mark, governors Gabriel Suswam (Benue); Jonah Jang (Plateau); Idris Wada (Kogi) among others.
The President commended the zone’s governors for not joining their counterparts to heat up the polity with immature and provocative comments.
It will be recalled that the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, led NGF, has been at loggerheads with the President until his re-election as Chairman of the forum resulted in a faction led by Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang.
Speaking on the role the North Central Governors played, Jonathan said, “We thank you for this solidarity visit and for giving us a Senate President that has been able to stabilise the National Assembly.
“And also the governors from the zone who have been stabilising the country because the way some of the governors talk and behave, if 50 percent of the governors behave that way, probably, we would have vacated this place (Aso Rock) and allow others to come and manage it for us.
“But they have been able to help to stabilise the whole country. When the Governors Forum became a monster and we had a lot of challenges, it was the North Central that came on board to stabilise the Governors Forum.
“So, the zone has been able to produce very great leaders, and patriotic leaders. So, we will continue to work with this zone, we will continue to encourage you.
“As we approach elections next year, let us know the problems on time, we will work with you to ensure PDP continues to maintain the zone.”
On the current security challenges facing the country especially in the north central, the President announced that he was working with the National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki, to evolve a new security architecture to checkmate the development and indeed, other security challenges in the country.
He said, “the security personnel are moving in to strengthen the conventional security, that is the police. But we are working very hard with the NSA office to make sure that we end the security challenges that we have across the country, whether in Borno state or the kidnappings in Edo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Abia and so on.
“We are coming up with different architecture that will deal with this insurgence. As we progress, we will begin to bring the situation under control”.
The issue of reimbursement on federal roads intervened by state governments Jonathan blamed it on budgetary allocations constrains. He said, “is because of budgetary constraints and the challenges we have now we have not been putting enough money if at all we are putting. A number of states have intervened on federal government infrastructures as especially roads, we said the payment should be properly done”.
The President also assured the delegation that the troubles bogging down Ajaokuta Steel Complex in Kogi state would soon be resolved as it was imperative for Nigeria’s industrialisation.
On Ajaokuta steel he said, “the key thing is that we had some challenges with the privatisation process. The people that got it had some issues but because of these litigations, the project was held down. And all along, we have been trying one way or the other but the project cannot take off very effectively because we want the private sector to come in robustly if we must get out from where we are but they will find it difficult except the legal issues are sorted out.
“In fact, we had similar issues with the Lagos- Ibadan expressway because of the private sector involvement. Bi-Courtney could not do it, to bring a private sector in became a problem, so government had to take over, until we can sort out everything, the private sector cannot come in, Ajaokuta is a little more complicated.
“So, the issues are being sorted out because without mines and steel, the nation cannot industrialize. Yes you can import, but it’s easier when you are producing locally because we believe that Ajaokuta will be one of the bedrocks for our own industrialization programme”.
Jonathan thanked the delegation for the support and acknowledged that since the North Central is essentially a PDP zone, victory for the party in 2015 is assured.
Suswam in his remarks, decried the inability of security personnel to arrest even one person despite the magnitude of mayhem wrought on the communities by those he described as heavily armed mercenary forces masquerading as herdsmen with intent to destabilise the region and country.
“Mr. President, what has worried us as governors who are also leaders is that in spite of the magnitude of destruction, no one person has been arrested and these destroyers move in large numbers.
“We are worried that without appropriate sanctions, they will continue with impunity because once people are not sanctioned, they don’t take that serious and I think the appropriate example must be shown.
“Mr. President, you must insist that your security forces must arrest these people, if you see the level of destruction and the fact that no person has been arrested, it becomes worrisome.”
The governor urged the President to pay particular attention to this issue, “the reason being that if the North Central is disorganised, Mr. President, you are disorganised because that is where you have your stability.”
Suswam added: “We are all worried because elections are around the corner and most of your strong areas which will bring millions of votes are being destroyed and people are moving out enmasse”.
Senate President, David Mark, said the North Central zone remained essential to the stability of Jonathan’s administration, which is why he declared that some unscrupulous people want to destabilise the zone using insecurity.
He promised the President maximum support from the North-Central zone, especially from the National Assembly which he heads despite the antics of those he called ‘rebels’ in the House.
“We cannot betray you, our word is our bond. We want you to trust us because we trust you. All we want is mutual confidence, and so far, you have shown it”, said Mark who assured that the huge electoral support Jonathan got from North Central will be repeated in 2015.
The PDP Chairman, Ahmadu Ali, said the North Central party faithful remained proud of him and commended him for what he had done for the zone.
He noted that the zone had always backed PDP and the zone will continue to do so at every election in future.
He urged Jonathan to find solution to the challenges hindering the Ajaokuta Steel Complex from contributing to national development; and canvassed for the establishment of a solid minerals development commission for the zone which has states well-endowed with the resources.
In his remark, the PDP Chairman, Adamu Muazu, urged the defected members of the PDP not to be ashamed to return. He openly called on the Nasarawa Governor to return to the PDP after the humiliation he recently suffered in the local government election.
He said PDP is the party that has the pot to feed everybody, even as he urged the President to act on the request made by the zone and address their pressing challenges.