Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and some state governors on Tuesday agreed that poverty and youth unemployment are the major causes of nationwide security challenges.
This is as the president also clarified that terrorists are not better equipped than the military.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement made available to journalists on Tuesday.
The statement titled “President Buhari, governors end meeting with calls for protection of civilian communities, improved intelligence-sharing” was issued at the end of a meeting Buhari had with representatives of the Nigeria Governors Forum at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on security challenges in the country.
Shehu said the President agreed with the governors that the issues would be addressed with greater vigour by all tiers of government.
The statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari and state governors Tuesday ended their meeting on the state of the nation’s security with calls for a joint strategy to bring various conflicts to an end within time limits, while field commanders would take measures to protect civilian communities as a confidence-building mechanism between the military and those communities.
“It is hoped that when the trust that has been lost between both parties is re-established, there would be improved cooperation in intelligence-gathering and sharing.
“The meeting also agreed that poverty and youth unemployment are at the root of the nationwide security challenges, and needed to be addressed with greater vigour by all tiers of government.
“The three-hour meeting coordinated by President Buhari, and attended by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, heads of defence, security and intelligence agencies, and members of the Security Committee of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum represented by one governor from each of the six geo-political zones (in a Virtual Format), focused on the country’s security policies and approaches in tackling the internal security challenges with a charge that intelligence-gathering and sharing must be optimised for the nation to secure itself.
“The President used the opportunity to dispel commonly held assumptions that the terrorists in the Northeast had far more weapons and money than the government, stressing that what is left of them are ‘mere scavengers desperate for food, raiding shops and markets, and killing innocent persons in the process.’”
Shehu also quoted the President as expressing concerns that in spite of the fact that borders with neighbouring countries had been shut, bandits and terrorists continued to have access to small weapons.
“These terrorists are in the localities. How is it that they are not short of small arms?” the presidential aide quoted Buhari as querying the security and intelligence chiefs.