From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
FRENCH President, Francois Hollande, has noted that despite the successes recorded by the Nigerian government against the terrorist sect, Boko Haram, it remains a threat.
Hollande stated this at the presidential villa, Abuja at the end of bilateral talks yesterday hosted by President Muhammadu Buhari, before the commencement of the Second Regional Summit in the Federal Capital Territory.
The French President, who commended the Nigerian military for impressively degrading the terrorist group, urged Buhari’s government not to relent over the fight against insurgency.
While admitting that terrorism was feeding on the weaknesses of the global financial system, Hollande said fighting corruption as well as all the systems that enable all forms of trafficking will further weaken terrorists groups.
Hollande was in the country to join other regional and western leaders to forge closer military co-operation and assistance in tackling the threat of terrorism and its dire humanitarian consequences.
President Buhari, while celebrating the degrading of the sect that has led to the liberation of all 14 local government areas initially under their control, said the main concern now is to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure as well as return the over two million Internally Displaced Persons to their homes.
The President who described the issue of security as harrowing, decried the fact that terrorism with the help of technology and millions of volunteers respect no borders .
According to him, “It is a lot of concern for people of conscience to learn that in Nigeria, we have more than two million IDPs, most of them women and children.
“Boko Haram has preoccupied this discussion both in and out of the bilateral discussions. We do appreciate the efforts, the successes recorded by this administration. I was told sometimes ago that a hundred articulated tankers leave Kano on a daily basis, seven days a week to go to Maiduguri. From there traders from Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, converge to transact their business. So you have at least two million Nigerians, from wheel barrow pushers to traders that benefit from Maiduguri market before Boko Haram struck.
“Now if you conduct a survey, that traffic is gradually coming back. You need to ask about this area for you to understand the successes scored by this government with the help of G7, including France in terms of training our military personnel, provision of hardware to keep on pushing Boko Haram out of Nigeria. Nigeria has been the main battle ground. We were not aware of their international colouration until they claimed that they are loyal to ISIS. So I assure you that we are doing our best”.
Buhari said, “When we came in, they were controlling 14 local governments where they hoisted their flags and declared them republics, or caliphates of some sort. But now, they are not holding any local government. They are exploiting available technology in terms of using improvised explosive device on soft targets – in mosques, churches, markets and motor parks.
“Many of the territories they held have been freed, and now our main problem is the rehabilitation of infrastructure destroyed – educational, health, bridges etc. We have made a comprehensive survey and very soon we will start to fix them.
“On the IDP s, more than 60 per cent of them are women and children, and more than 60 per cent of the children are orphans. This is a pathetic situation and is a major problem we are going to face in this country.”