by Rachel Ogbu
President Goodluck Jonathan has said he would remain idle while a group of people held any part of the country hostage and warned that his government would no longer stand security operatives being killed willfully in parts of the country.
President Jonathan on Friday addresses dignitaries and the press at a town hall meeting in Maiduguri during his working visit to Borno State, the hub of activities of members of the fundamental Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
“I cannot preside over this country as a president and security officers are killed. These people leave their families; they stay on the road and the bush so that we will sleep and I will not want to hear that one of them is killed,” he said.
President Jonathan also said it was depressing for him to hear that in a part of Borno State, children have stayed out of school for one year because of the security situation in the state.
According to information available to him, President Jonathan showed that the security situation in Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, Bauchi and Niger states was gradually improving but in Borno State it has not gotten any better.
He therefore guaranteed soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force deployed in troubled parts of the country will remain on ground until normalcy returns to the affected areas.
According to reports, President Jonathan took a jab at some politicians in the state blaming them of playing to the gallery on the issue of insecurity in the state.
He said he was uneasy with the ideas from some state leaders, who felt that soldiers were no longer needed in the state but he said he was willing to co-operate under certain circumstances.
He said he would order the soldiers back to their barracks immediately only if the elders could sign an undertaking for him.
“In terms of the security situation, I will sincerely plead with the people of Borno State that this is not the time to play to the gallery, whether you are a politician or you are not.
“The state chairman of the PDP spoke, a member of the House of Representatives spoke, the professor who is a former VC of University of Maiduguri also spoke.
“The way they spoke, I am not comfortable, I must be very frank. Their conclusion was that there are too many bunkers in Borno State. Why did the bunkers come? Who wants to send bunkers to Borno?
“If the circumstances that brought the soldiers are no longer there, that day, they will all leave,” he said.
The Punch reports that:
President Jonathan said his government was careful on the issue of amnesty because such exercise was sensitive.
He said it would diminish the integrity of the government if amnesty was declared and innocent persons were killed again the following day.
Jonathan also criticised an unnamed professor, who he accused of instigating the people against the immunisation of children against poliomyelitis.
He said if it was possible, such a person’s professorship should be withdrawn.
Earlier, some elders, including the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Prof. Nura Alkali; the minister of Mines and Power in the General Yakubu Gowon’s regime, Alhaji Shettima Ali Monguno; Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, Mr. Mohammed Monguno; and the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Baba Basharu, had painted a picture of how hundreds of innocent citizens have been killed in the cross-fire between JTF and Boko Haram members, rendering the state full of orphans and widows.