The federal government Tuesday said it was in collaboration with the Kaduna state government to secure the release of abducted students of Greenfield University and their counterparts from Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka both in the state.
The government also condemned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for engaging in “political gimmickry” while suggesting the way out of the current security challenges.
Some 39 students of Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka in the state were abducted March 11, after which five of them “were recovered.”
Also, about 23 students of Greenfield varsity were abducted April 20, with five of them killed while one was released today (Tuesday).
Similarly, the PDP had, through its national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, suggested some possible steps the federal government needed to take to exit the nation out of the current security challenges, even as it slammed some economic policies of the APC-led government.
Giving assurance on their possible release while answering reporters’ questions, the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Mohammed said: “Let me say that federal government regrets the killing of these innocent students. But I can assure you that both the state and federal governments are collaborating to ensure the kids are released.
“The easy way out is to ensure we don’t give in to these kidnappers’ ultimatum. Our strategies on this, we won’t disclose but we are working towards ensuring their release. We are not denying that we are facing challenges but we are rising up to these challenges.”
On the way out of the security crisis as proffered by the PDP, the minister said “the main opposition party said it was dropping the toga of politics in the national interest.
“Unfortunately, the PDP did not respect its own words, as it played cheap politics while playing the ostrich. The party went ahead to make wild accusations against the President and his government. For example, the PDP said the government has refused to engage, and that we were running a ‘government of exclusion’.
“The opposition party then went ahead to reel out a number of suggestions as a way out of the current challenges facing the nation. Unfortunately, the recommendations by the PDP have exposed the opposition party’s gimmickry, and the fact that it was merely playing politics with serious national issues, especially security.
“Had it not been so, and had it done its home work properly, the PDP would have known that most of those same recommendations were already contained in the outcome of the Federal Government’s Town Hall Meeting on National Security, which was held in Kaduna on April 8th 2021.”
He said contrary to the PDP’s position, the federal government “has consistently engaged Nigerians on topical national issues, including security, the fight against corruption, terrorism, infrastructure and farmer-herder conflict.
“The Town Hall Meeting series, which we launched in 2016, has so far been held 18 times across Nigeria. It’s always a no-holds-barred opportunity for
the government to engage with critical stakeholders, briefing them on
government policies and programmes and getting their feedbacks, thus ensuring inclusion and deepening of democracy.”
He also reeled out a 10-point recommendation arrived at the Kaduna town hall meeting themed “Setting Benchmarks for Enhanced Security and National Unity in Nigeria.”
He listed some of the resolutions to include; “That the governance of human society should be based on Law rather than the whims and caprices of human beings and must be obeyed by all as all persons are equal before the law including the law givers.
“That there is urgent need for political restructuring and not separation and that the Judiciary be decentralized and reformed through Constitutional Amendment to remove the unitary control of the Superior Courts.”
The minister said the resolutions “are more encompassing and more far-reaching than the political gimmickry which the PDP embarked upon yesterday. Conveniently, the PDP did not acknowledge this national engagement that featured panelists from academia and civil society. The Lead
Presenter was Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, and the four discussants were Mrs Ibukun Awosika, the erstwhile Chairperson of the First Bank; Prof. Saka Nuru, a renowned veterinary surgeon; Prof Chudi Uwazuruike, an academic and a former member of the House of Representatives, and Prof Kokunre Eghafona, also from academia.
“The stakeholders who attended included all the service chiefs, members of the legislative and executive arms of government, civil society organizations, traditional and religious leaders, women and youth groups as well as labour. There
can be no better engagement than this.
“Now, we have gone a step further. We have taken those resolutions to the National Economic Council, Chaired by His Excellency the Vice President, and which also includes all the state governors. As a prelude to adopting the recommendations, the NEC has directed all state governors to organize state-wide consultation on them, and then revert to the Council in its next meeting.”
With the above, the minister said: “You can now see that the PDP was more interested in playing politics with national challenges than helping to find solutions to them. They presented as original thinking some of the same resolutions that we are already working to implement, without a single reference to those same recommendations that emanated from our Town Hall Meeting of April 8th 2021. They disparaged Mr. President and the Federal Government, engaged in name calling and finger-pointing, gloated about the security challenges facing the nation, lied about how they resolved security challenges under their watch and then went ahead to say, at their hysterical press conference, that they have not come to play politics. Who is fooling who here.”
Further to this, Mohammed said: “I want to comment on one other issue raised by the PDP at its play-to-the-gallery press conference. The PDP alleged that kidnappers and bandits are not being brought to justice. This is
apparently aimed at the Federal Government.
“It is shocking that a party that ruled this nation for all of 16 years does not know that kidnapping and banditry are not federal offences. The PDP should therefore call out the states, including those being controlled by it, to ensure a rigorous prosecution of arrested kidnappers and bandits.
Meanwhile, PDP conveniently forgot that as far as terrorism, a federal offence, is concerned, this Federal Government has successfully prosecuted thousands of Boko Haram members in Kainji, as part of a continuing exercise. We are now seeking the cooperation of the judiciary to continue with the trial of arrested terrorists.
“Gentlemen, we acknowledge the challenges we face as a nation and
we are doing everything possible to tackle them. We call on all Nigerians to support the efforts of the Federal Government to tackle the challenges. We advise those bent on playing cheap politics with the challenges to have a rethink. This is no time for politics.”
Presidency raises the alarm
Meanwhile, the Presidency has raised the alarm of a plot to convene a national conference where a vote of no confidence would be passed on President Muhammadu Buhari to overthrow his government.
A statement issued Tuesday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity. Mr Femi Adesina, accused some religious leaders and past political leaders of planning to wreak havoc on the corporate existence of the country.
The statement said some disgruntled Nigerians working with foreign elements were trying to achieve what they could not during the last election.
The statement reads: “The Department of State Services (DSS), on Sunday alerted on sinister moves by misguided elements to wreak havoc on the government, sovereignty and corporate existence of the country.
“Championed by some disgruntled religious and past political leaders, the intention is to eventually throw the country into a tailspin, which would compel a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership.
“Further unimpeachable evidence shows that these disruptive elements are now recruiting the leadership of some ethnic groups and politicians round the country, with the intention of convening some sort of conference, where a vote of no confidence would be passed on the President, thus throwing the land into further turmoil.
“The caterwauling, in recent times, by these elements, is to prepare the grounds adequately for their ignoble intentions, which are designed to cause further grief for the country.
“The agent provocateurs hope to achieve through artifice and sleight of hands, what they failed to do through the ballot box in the 2019 elections.
“Nigerians have opted for democratic rule, and the only accepted way to change a democratically elected government is through elections, which hold at prescribed times in the country. Any other way is patently illegal, and even treasonable. Of course, such would attract the necessary consequences.
“These discredited individuals and groups are also in cahoots with external forces to cause maximum damage in their own country. But the Presidency, already vested with mandate and authority by Nigerians till 2023, pledges to keep the country together, even if some unruly feathers would be ruffled in the process.”
Military warns over coup
In a related development, the Defence Headquarters has criticised reports associating it with any takeover from the current democratic dispensation while pledging its loyalty to the Nigerian Constitution.
This was contained in a statement issued Monday night by the Acting Director, Defence Information, Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu in Abuja.
He said the Defence Headquarters would advise those politicians to banish such thoughts, adding that the military under the current leadership remained resolute in the defence of the nation’s democracy and its growth.
“We also wish to remind all military personnel that it is treasonable to even contemplate this illegality.
“The full wrath of the law will be brought to bear on any personnel found to collude with people having such agenda,” he said.
Nwachukwu said: “The attention of the military high command had been drawn to a statement suggesting that current political leadership should hand over power to the military for the purpose of restructuring.”
The statement was reported to have been made by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria Robert Clark while featuring on a television programme Monday.
“The Nigerian military wishes to dissociate itself from such anti-democratic utterance and position.
“Let it be stated categorically that the Armed Forces of Nigeria remain fully committed to the present Administration and all associated democratic institutions.
“We shall continue to remain apolitical, subordinate to the Civil Authority, firmly loyal to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari and the 1999 Constitution as Amended.
“We shall continue to discharge our constitutional responsibilities professionally, especially in protecting the country’s democracy, defence of the territorial integrity of the country as well as protection of lives and properties of citizens,” he said.
The DHQ further clarified that, “the military high command would not tolerate misguided politicians who nursed the inordinate ambition to rule the country outside the ballot box.”