A former Vice President and stalwart of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Atiku Abubakar, on Saturday disagreed with the position of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government that Boko Haram terrorists have been defeated.
The Turakin Adamawa, who spoke in Yola, the Adamawa capital, at the 11th Founder’s Day Ceremony of the American University of Nigeria, AUN, averred that the terrorist group remained deadly.
“The insurgents still occupy a specific geographical space. They (Boko Haram) still retain the capacity for occasional deadly attacks. Many citizens in the zone still remain vulnerable and live in fear,” he said.
This comment seem to counter repeated claims by President Muhammadu Buhari and his Information minister, Lai Mohammed, that Boko Haram had been Technically defeated, and was no longer holding any territory in the country.
In his 2016 Democracy Day speech, Buhari had insisted that the sect has been defeated, saying: “We marshaled our neighbours in a joint task force to tackle and defeat Boko Haram. By the end of December 2015, all but pockets and remnants had been routed by our gallant armed forces”.
Before then, Lai Mohammed had stated that the Boko Haram terrorists remain largely decimated, dispersed and disoriented, adding that “in reality, insurgency has been weakened as a cohesive terror force”.
But Atiku, in his Saturday speech, said it was premature for anyone to claim victory over Boko Haram at the moment, adding that, “We cannot say that the problem is over until every displaced person is able to return home, to the office, to the market, to the farm, and resume normal activities.
“We cannot say it is over until we rebuild the schools, the churches, the hospitals, the markets, and the homes that had been destroyed. And we cannot say it’s over until the survivors of this insurgency receive the help they need, including psychological therapy to deal with the trauma that they have been through.
“I visited an IDP camp on Saturday and had the privilege of teaching a math class to some children. But the site of hundreds of children running around and unable to attend school was very gut wrenching. It still breaks my heart. So we cannot say the insurgency is over until all the displaced children return to their schools.
“And, as I indicated last year, it would not be enough for people to simply return to their pre-insurgency lives. We must do better than that otherwise we would only have papered over the wound without really treating it.
“People must return to something better, to hope, to improved schools, to improved economic opportunities, to freedom of worship and improved inter-religious harmony.”