Molly Kilete, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to end the Boko Haram madness within the shortest possible time.
This, he said, would be achieved with procurement of modern fighting equipment.
The president spoke in Maiduguri, Borno State, yesterday, when he declared open the fourth annual Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Conference.
The quarterly conference reviews army’s activities, including operations and exercises with a view to improving on them.
The president used the occasion to address troops on the frontline in the North East and assured
the people of the region of his administration’s determination to prosecute the counterinsurgency to logical conclusion.
His visit was a morale booster for officers and soldiers in the aftermath of killing of over 100 soldiers at Metele, northern Borno, by Boko Haram, last weekend.
Buhari, who was the special guest of honour, commended the leadership of the Army for moving the conference earlier slated to hold in Benin, Edo State to Maiduguri.
He promised that his administration would continue to give maximum support to the military, noting that that one of the cardinal objectives of his government is to ensure adequate security of lives and property of the citizenry.
“This conference is timely considering the fact that this government is determined to end security challenges in the North East, Niger Delta and farmers/herdsmen clashes in some parts of the country.
I want to convey our deep condolences to the families of heroic gallant officers and soldiers who paid the supreme price while maintaining law and order in our fatherland.
“As we approach the 2019 general election, I want to urge members of our security forces to remain non-partisans and level up to the expectations on the rules of engagements. I want to specifically condole with family of late General Idris Alkali and the Nigerian army for his untimely death in the hands of some evil-doers. I want to assure you that we are doing everything possible to bring the perpetrators to book.
“As president, and by the powers conferred on me, I assure you that government will procure modern fighting equipment to end the madness of Boko Haram and other acts of our enemies. I want to also assure you that government is doing everything to increase the welfare of Nigerian army,” the president said.
As the president addressed the troops, some soldiers staged protests at the rear wing of the parade ground. They were, however, prevented from entering the parade ground by military police.
Before the president’s arrival, security was beefed up in Maiduguri and environs.
Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima received the president at the Maiduguri International Airport around 11:30am.
Buhari proceeded to the Palace of the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai El-Kanemi on a courtesy call, and later to the Command Guest Inn, Baga Road, Maiduguri to flag off the Conference.
In his welcome address, Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali said the conference usually brings serving and retired commanders and other security agencies to brainstorm on ongoing operations against terrorists and other criminalities in the country.
He thanked President Buhari for giving enormous support to the military to confront series of security challenges bedevilling some parts of the country, especially North East and the Lake Chad region.
The minister also commended the service chiefs and other stakeholders for their unrelenting efforts in the fight against Boko Haram and other related security challenges in the country.
He called for a coordinated joint operations amongst the security agencies to ensure total peace in the land.
Governor Shettima commended all security agencies and members of the Civilian JTF for degrading the remnants of Boko Haram terrorists in the North East.
He said before the coming of president Buhari, virtually all major roads leading to Maiduguri were death traps, as nobody ventured out of the city without being confronted or attacked by insurgents.
He pledged that his administration would give every support needed to security agencies to end the lingering crisis of insurgents.
He blamed poverty, illiteracy and climatic and other changes in the lake Chad region for the emergence of Boko Haram.
Meanwhile, authorities of the Nigerian army has paid a condolence visit to the widow of Lieutenant-Colonel Sakaba.
Until his death, Sakaba was the commanding officer of the 157 Special Task Force Battalion in Metele.
He was killed alongside his Adjutant, Master Warrant Officer and unspecified number of soldiers on November 18 when terrorists overran their base.
The delegation from 6 Division where the officer served before his deployment to Maiduguri, led
by Brig-Gen SI Igbinomwanhia, the Chief of staff, visited the widow of the Sakaba to condole with her and her family.
Gen Igbinomwanhia, who represented the General Officer Commanding the Division, Maj. Gen J. Sarham, was accompanied by members of the Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association, Nigerian Army Soldiers Wives Association, Commander 46 EB, Brig. Gen. JD Omali, Brig. Gen. AM Kanoma, Public Relations Officer in charge of the Division, Colonel A Iliyasu, Commander 6 Provost group, Colonel AD Abubakar, Colonel MG Hammawa, Chaplain Roman Catholic and Protestant and representative of the Imam.