President Buhari charges Governors to work with traditional rulers for local intelligence

President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday in Abuja ended a meeting with 36 state governors on the issue of security with a charge to them to work more with traditional rulers and community members to improve local intelligence gathering that will aid the work of security agencies.

The President, who listened to presentations by a governor from each of the six geo-political zones on their specific security challenges, recalled that in the old order communities identified new comers and passed information to constituted authority.

“The sub-region is no longer safe, more so with the collapse of the former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and the cross border movement of weapons and criminals.

“Governors must work with traditional rulers. Try and work with traditional rulers to boost intelligence gathering.’’

Giving an overview of the security situation in each of the zones, the President said his administration had done well in the North East and South South, adding that the South South situation was still worrisome.

“Every day I get situation reports about illegal refineries and the blowing up of pipelines. You must stop local rogues from sabotaging oil installations.’’

Addressing the issue of banditry and kidnapping reported in each of the geo-political zones, President Buhari said “security is important and we must secure the whole country. We are thinking very hard on the issue of kidnapping. We will make it possible for the military to get to the bandits and kidnappers and eliminate them.’’

He explained that the closure of the nation’s land borders was partly an attempt to control the smuggling in of weapons and drugs.

“Now that the message has sunk in with our neighbours, we are looking into reopening the borders as soon as possible.’’

President Buhari gave assurances that the country’s military will continue to get the support they needed to fight criminals.

“I am not going to the public to speak about the vehicles and equipment we have ordered. What I can say is that the military received armoured cars and other equipment and they are training the trainers. More of such equipment, including military aircrafts will come in.’’

On the issues raised on ENDSARS protest and its hijack by hoodlums to cause mayhem and destroy private and public property, President Buhari sounded a strong warning about reoccurrence, saying that no responsible government will allow that to happen.

“We do not stop anyone from demonstrating, but you don’t set up roadblocks and smash windscreens. Which government will allow that?’’

President Buhari noted that the foreign press coverage of the ENDSARS violence was not balanced, citing specifically the CNN and BBC, for omitting the number of policemen killed, police stations that were razed, and the prisons that were thrown open for inmates to escape.

“I was disgusted by the coverage, which did not give attention to the policemen that were killed, the stations that were burnt, and prisons that were opened. (They said we are all at fault. We don’t have the sympathy of anyone. We are on our own).’’

President Buhari said violent demonstrations will no longer be allowed, adding: “democracy does not mean confusion or lack of accountability.’’

On the eight-month long strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities, the President said lecturers had not taken into consideration the larger challenges facing the country.

“Government conceded something. The problem is that they refused to look at the problem of the whole country. The Minister of Labour is working hard at it. It is amazing how ASUU will stay out of classrooms for so long. There’s a need for our elites to understand the challenges facing the country.’’

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The Commander, U.S. Africa Command, U General Stephen Townsend, wrapped up a three-day West African visit February 22-25, 2021, with a stopover in Nigeria to meet with the nation’s leaders and further the long-standing partnership and security cooperation between the two countries.

A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.