President Muhammadu Buhari has urged troops of Operation Hadin Kai to remain steadfast as they go into the final phase of the campaign against insurgency and other forms of criminalities.
The president, according to a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, made the call when he addressed the troops at the Airforce Base in Maiduguri, Borno State, on Thursday.
According to President Buhari, the entire nation remains grateful for the gallantry displayed in ensuring gradual return of peace to the North East, while condoling with families that have lost loved ones, and the wounded.
He said: “I urge you also to stay focused to achieve our strategic end-state which is the defeat of all adversaries and restoration of an economically viable North East Geo-political Zone and other parts of the Country where Nigerians are free to go about their activities without fear or harassment.’’
The president assured families of soldiers who paid the supreme price for the nation and the injured that the Federal Government would cater for their needs, recognizing their sacrifices for all Nigerians.
“I am delighted to be with you today and to convey my gratitude and that of the entire nation to you all, as you continuously strive to secure our dear country.
“Your career is like no other because it is a conscious commitment and preparedness to give your best for the sake of others.
“I am therefore here on behalf of a grateful nation to thank and commend you for your service and sacrifices.
“Let me start by commiserating with you all on the unfortunate loss of Brigadier General Dzarma Zirkushu and other personnel of 25 and 28 Task Force Brigades, who died on Nov. 13, 2021.
“I do this mindful of the fact that we have lost others in this Theatre of Operation as well as other operational areas across the country.
“We pray for the repose of their souls and for the Almighty God to comfort the families that they left behind.
“The people of Borno State and indeed the entire country owe a debt of gratitude to our serving men in uniform for the huge sacrifices in the pursuit of peace,” he said.
He maintained that the government would continue to ensure that the widows and children of fallen heroes were well catered for, to help them fully realize their potentials.
The president noted that the response exhibited across the theatre had shown extraordinary resilience and steadfastness in the face of adversity.
“That is the spirit, tenacity and resolve that the Nigerian Armed Forces is known for. Well done.
“Our country, just like all the others in the Sahel region, is faced with several security challenges that are largely characterized by the violent activities of non-state actors.
“This has necessitated several interventions aimed at ensuring the security of persons and property across the numerous hot spots.
“Further improvements in the security situation in Operation Hadin Kai have led to a corresponding rise in the confidence of our people who are now returning in significant numbers to their homes.
“Further to the reorganizations in the military leadership, concerted efforts are being made to improve your equipment holding.
“I am aware that you have started receiving some of the platforms procured by our administration while others would be received in the weeks ahead,” the president added.
While noting threats posed by criminals through the employment of Improvised Explosive Devices, he said substantial resources had also been directed at procuring equipment for explosive ordnance disposal.
According to him, similar attention is being given to Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Assets.
“These measures and the platforms being received would accord you the necessary reach, fire power and protection to project force across the Theatre and bring the fight to a logical and successful end.”
President Buhari told the troops that at the onset of the administration he emphasized the need to rejuvenate the Multinational Joint Task Force, which was in realization of the fluid and transnational nature of current threats and their propensity to hibernate in neighbouring countries.
“I therefore urge you to continue to further strengthen your cooperation with the militaries of the other countries under the auspices of the Multinational Joint Task Force in order to further optimize the mutual gains for our respective national security.
“As we step up the military efforts, our administration has remained conscious of the efficacy of the employments of other lines of effort in our drive to ensuring the return of lasting peace to the North East Region.
“The North East Development Commission continues to make giant strides at improving the economic and social welfare of Nigerians in the region.
“I am also happy with the increased level of cooperation between the good people of Borno State, other stakeholders and the security agencies. I urge you to continue to cooperate with other security agencies with a view to ensuring a full return to normalcy.”
He assured that the administration would continue to work with all well-meaning stakeholders including friendly nations, civil society organizations as well as other credible non-governmental organizations to bring peace to all troubled areas across the nation.
The president expressed deep appreciation to the government of Borno for its continuous cooperation with the Federal Government in multiple spheres.
“This has been critical to the furtherance of our mutual efforts at restoring peace to the State.
“I particularly commend, Gov. Babagana Zulum, for your untiring commitment and cherished collaboration with my administration for the overall good of the people of Borno.
“Yours is a good example of the inherent benefits that are accruable from conscious positive interaction between the Federal Government and states.”
He also commended the Minister of Defence as well as the Chief of Defence Staff, Service Chiefs and the heads of all other security agencies for forging a common front of collaboration and cooperation which had continued to enhance operations.
“It was gratifying to observe some of these examples of collaboration during the Research and Development Exhibition at the recently concluded Chief of Army Staff’s Annual Conference and the launch of locally constructed Seaward Defence Ship at the Naval Dockyard.
“I urge you all to stay the course towards ensuring that we become self-sufficient in the production of our defence equipment in no distant future.
‘To my dear troops, as your Commander in Chief, I am mindful of your selfless sacrifices which in some cases have entailed paying the supreme price.
“The nation owes you a debt of gratitude for your commitment, dedication and unalloyed loyalty to the Constitution of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“Our Government will continue to work with your respective heads to ensure that your welfare receives priority attention and that our wounded comrades are given the best medical care possible,” he assured.
The president said the manpower challenges which have limited the rotation of some units from the theatre would be addressed by concerted efforts to increase recruitment and ensure that the remaining units due for rotation were relieved as soon as practicable.