The Patriotic Elders Council of Nigeria (PECN) has said the safe return of schoolboys abducted in Kankara, Katsina state has evoked memories of President Muhammadu Buhari they used to know.
In a statement signed by its Secretary-General, Bishop Pinot Ogbaji, Monday, the PECN said President Buhari rolled back the years with his display of poise, celerity and focus.
Having risen steadily through the military ranks, President Buhari was Head of State between 1983 and 1985, a two-year regime famous for honesty, patriotism and incorruptibility.
And the PECN noted that these virtues once again came to the fore as the president secured the release of the Kankara students.
According to Bishop Ogbaji, President Buhari has confirmed his capacity to end banditry, terrorism and other criminal vices in the country.
He added that the nation’s confidence in the president, the service chiefs and troops have been renewed following the release of the students.
Bishop Ogbaji, however, called on all Nigerians to continue to support the president as the bigger battle lies ahead.
Read the full statement below
The release on Thursday night, of the over 300 boys abducted from the Government Senior Science Secondary School, GSSS, Kankara, Katsina State, has shown that it is only a matter of time before the current administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari will defeat insurgency and terrorism in Nigeria.
As elders, we followed the episode leading to the abduction of the boys, their captivity, the nature of negotiations, the efforts of the Federal Government and the military intelligence put into play leading to the release of the boys and we have no reason to withhold our joy and excitement.
THIS IS THE BUHARI WE USED TO KNOW
We noted that while the boys were being held, that not once did the President panic or lose his composure.
Even as pressure was mounting on Mr President to take presumptive actions, President Buhari did not lose focus but concentrated hard on what needed to be done until he was able to achieve results.
We saw a reenactment of the Buhari we used to know since the 60s who is not not only brave and courageous but firm and focused and hardly loses his composure.
Much as some had wanted him to resort to histrionics by coming on national television to lament and shed crocodile tears, President Buhari chose the dignified option by not allowing the insurgents get the wrong impression that he is weak or for a moment think they’re winning.
The President, however, continued to work round the clock by adopting the carrot and stick approach by allowing those who felt negotiating with the gunmen would bring results to continue to explore that angle, but also putting in place a military exercise that not only picked the location of where the schoolboys were being held but later encircling the gunmen to the point that the military could have overwhelmed them if they had tried anything funny.
THE STRATEGIES THAT WORKED
In the end, the two strategies worked as they gunmen who probably wanted to explore the situation beyond a given time, realised their time was up and had to quickly release the boys.
In that bid, President Buhari succeeded in killing two birds with a stone by ensuring the quick release of the Kankara boys and ensuring that not a single one of them is hurt.
In the history of mass abductions for money, this is the first time that the bandits would be embedded and boxed to a corner that they had to reconsider their own safety.
We believe the Nigerian Government when it said it paid no ransom to secure the release of schoolboys because of these strategies.
We also believe the Defence Headquarters, when it said the military rescued the students from their captors.
POSITIVE ASPECTS OF RECENT GAINS
This is why we the elders, after having observed the development, felt the need to point out to Nigerians the positive aspect of what the President and his Team have achieved by this and to reassure them, that despite the many reports of such crimes, that we have a President with the capacity to rescue Nigeria from banditry, terrorism and insurgency and other forms of crime.
We have always known that it is not beyond the President and the military to tackle terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria.
People forget that it is Nigerian troops under President Buhari that flushed out Boko Haram terrorists from their base in Sambisa Forest and captured their flag and Qur’an in less than six months after the President took the oath of office in 2015.
It is this same President who gave the command for the headquarters of operations to be moved to the theatres of war and within a short period, liberated all the 14 local governments taken over by the insurgents in three different states of the country before he became President.
This year alone, the military has neutralised over 2,000 terrorists in both the Northeast and Northwest, Nigeria and have added the release of the Kankara boys to their exploits against the terrorists.
Our confidence in the ability of the President and his Team to do a good job has been restored because the President has succeeded in blocking the diversion and misappropriation of funds meant for the purchase of weapons for the fight against insurgency as was the practice in the previous administration.
Unlike in the past where troops complain of lack of weapons and security gadgets to prosecute the war against insurgency, much has been acquired in that regard that has boosted the morale of our troops to fight.
The encouragement was given by the President to the Service Chiefs to lead the fight from the front we also note has been one effective tonic that has changed the narrative against the insurgents.
With the effective check on the activities of bandits, terrorists or whatever name they’re called, through the release of the Kankara boys, we restate that it remains a matter of time for all these crimes to be halted in.
No doubt our troops have further been motivated by the outcome of the Kankara boys abduction episode in which they received the support of Mr. President.
We call on all Nigerians to continue to support the President as the bigger battle lies ahead.