Citing the latest successes recorded by the military in the ongoing campaign against terrorists and the recapture of territories previously occupied by Boko Haram insurgents, Anti-corruption czar and former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commision (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, on Saturday warned that changing the Commander-in-Chief in the middle of war would be inimical to the consolidation of the victories achieved so far, Thisday reports.
Ribadu, a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police and gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Adamawa State, therefore urged Nigerians to re-elect President Goodluck Jonathan in this month’s election so as to sustain the tempo of the ongoing onslaught against Boko Haram, a deadly group that has killed about 13,000 people, captured territories in the Northeast and displaced over one million people in the past six years.
But in a major turnaround after months of gains by Boko Haram, Nigerian troops have retaken several towns in recent weeks that had been in extremist hands for months, and are on the verge of liberating the last enclaves of the militant sects.
Nigerians will however be going to the poll on March 28 to cast their votes in a closely contested election in which President Jonathan is seeking re-election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, while his main challenger, former Head of State General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) is vying on the platform of the All Progressive Congress.
“You don’t change a commander-in-Chief in time of war”, said Ribadu in Mubi during his visit to three of the liberated local government areas of Adamawa State to commiserate with the people affected by the insurgents’ occupation of their towns.
Buttressing his argument, Ribadu said, “Political stability is key to peace and security, more so at a time of instability like what we are witnessing today. We cannot afford to disrupt this operation midstream. This tide should be allowed to continue.”
Faulting criticisms that government waited for so long before effectively responding to the rampaging deadly sect, Ribadu said: “The President never wanted to have large number of collateral damage. He is a careful leader who quietly took this very measured strategy without grandstanding. Today, we see the result of this matured way of handling this difficult war, which has pushed out the terrorist with minimal civilian casualty.
“The President took his time to build this strong coalition of bringing together our neighbouring countries. The result is for everyone to see. We have seen that the table is now turned against the terrorists, and they are on the run.”
“Now, it is about consolidation of this success, on how to restore life in these affected communities and bring about stability. The President has already established the Victims Support Fund and he has a marshal plan on how to consolidate on this military successes”, the retired AIG said to further buttress his argument.
Drawing from his personal experience, he said, “I have worked in many crisis zones, including Afghanistan, I know what insurgency is all about. It is unfortunate that at a time the country should unite for action against the insurgents we were busy apportioning blame. That is why I refrained from any comment about this all this while.”
He said terrorism is a global phenomenon which is difficult to purge, adding that “No country has succeeded in eliminating terrorism altogether and within a short time. The victory may not be total and immediate. It is a gradual process.”
Thanking those he called the real heroes of the war against insurgency, Ribadu commended the Nigerian military, the police and the allied forces of other nations for the successes recorded against Boko Haram, adding that the federal government and the military deserve votes of confidence from Nigerians for what they had been able to do in reclaiming territories previously occupied by the insurgents.
“The military and our gallant members of the vigilante who sacrificed a lot and even lost their lives, I am proud to associate myself with you.
“Our security agencies are doing extremely great work and we should unite in applauding them. They have operated in the most difficult situations but they are winning even though the world refused to help us.”
He however decried the politicization of the anti-terror war saying, “It is sad that politics is brought into this issue of insurgency. Those making such comments do not know that they are hurting us, we that are living in the epicenter of this insurgency. Our people have suffered for too long, those hauling words from their comfort zones should please shut up and give us chance to confront what directly affects us,” he said.
Speaking further, Ribadu said, “President Goodluck Jonathan is a very compassionate and kind-hearted person but it is being misunderstood to mean something else. But to me, it is an attribute of a good leader. We have seen the President demonstrating compassion in a number of ways. Our lives have been turned upside down here. He has visited us, he has assured us of his commitment to restore back our lives. And I believe he will live up to those promises.”
He also noted that the Adamawa State Governor Bala James Ngillari had demonstrated strong leadership in the fight against insurgency by cooperating with the security agencies and pioneering strategic civilian involvement in tackling the activities of the terrorists.