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Nigeria will get over troubles in Northeast, Buhari assures

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President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday in Abuja, said though it might take a bit longer, Nigeria was determined to tackle all issues and put an end to the conflict in the Northeast and move the country forward.

The President, who spoke when he received the European Union (EU) Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic in the State House, said: “If we were capable to fight a 30-month civil war and reorganised our country, I wonder why people are thinking that Nigeria cannot do it.

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“I assure you of Nigeria’s commitment to enhance and deepen cooperation with the EU in all areas. Our priorities in the Next Level are to ensure that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are rehabilitated, so that livelihood should be established and the children should not lose the opportunity to go back to school, which is very important for the future of that area and Nigeria generally.

“We have the experience of the civil war. I could recall the role of the military, the army, each commander had in his pocket how to behave himself and how to allow international bodies like yourself to go round and see for themselves that people are treated in the most humane way.

“We have this experience and I assure you that we also have this confidence in your organisation. That is why I feel Nigeria is capable of handling this crisis. It may take longer, but we are capable of handling it.”

The President also commended the recent meeting in Germany, which deliberated on the happenings in Libya, saying: “The important thing really is weapons reaching the Sahel; the instability it is causing. Look at the casualties in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali. Libya has a direct impact on the stability of the Sahel.

“As for Boko Haram, we try to disabuse the mind of the people and I think our people now understand the basic dishonesty in it. With my experience personally in the civil war, I am sure we will get over it.”

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Buhari further assured that the newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, would do a good job of managing the various humanitarian issues evolving from the Northeast, adding: “I assure you that we are aware of these problems and we will continue to do our best.

“The new ministry is coordinating NEMA and others to make sure that whatever resources we get are well utilised. The ministry will be accountable to the government, instead of having too many bodies doing the same thing.

“We are also reaching out to foreign countries, explaining to them our position, and we are confident we will get over it.”

The EU commissioner emphasised that Nigeria plays a big role in the African continent and globally in economic, social and other spheres and asked for the development of a plan between the EU and Nigeria concerning the issues in the Northeast.

Lenarcic said he had visited Borno State and appreciates government’s efforts to end the conflict there, noting: “We would like to support your efforts. We believe all relevant actors- military, civilian as well as humanitarian- should come together. The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs is suggesting such high-level dialogue.  

“In situations such as what we have in the Northeast, international law and international humanitarian law should apply. We believe in your efforts to end the conflict; military effort alone probably will not be sufficient without identifying and addressing the socio-economic factors causing it.”

Earlier during a visit to the Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum at Government House, Maiduguri, Lenarcic said the EU has spent about 28.3 million euros (N11.32 billion) on life-saving and humanitarian assistance to 1.8 million people in the Northeast.

Accompanied by the United Nations (UN) Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon, he stated that over 180, 000 civilians were forced by conflict to leave everything behind in search of safety and basic need services to survive in camps and host communities.

“This visit comes at a critical time when the people of Borno State are facing increasing challenges of insecurity to lives and property. In recent weeks, we have seen an upsurge in violent attacks from non-armed groups, with increasing illegal checkpoints on major supply and commercial routes.

“People who had started to recover from the crisis are still hit once again by violence or confronted with the impossibility of reaching resources they need.”

He noted that thousands of people that have returned to their communities are being forced to move back to overcrowded camps in Maiduguri, Pulka, Dikwa, Monguno, Bama and Gwoza.

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