The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has said he did not understand the Boko Haram phenomenon, lamenting that despite the efforts of the Nigerian Army, the insurgency had not been eliminated.
Telescope.ng reports that the former vice president stated this on Sunday during the People’s Town Hall 2023 series aired on Channels TV.
Atiku, who featured with his running mate, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, responded to questions on insecurity and was asked about his position on Boko Haram.
The former vice president said: “I still cannot understand why we should have Boko Haram. You see, I served in Borno State when it was in the North-East, and as a Customs officer and I was patrolling the entire North-East, so I am very conversant with the vegetation and with the border areas. I still cannot find a place in the Borno areas where anybody can hide and cannot be seen. I cannot understand honestly, the Boko Haram phenomenon.
“Sometimes when returning from Europe, 30 feet above, I could see a man walking in Borno State, so where is the place to hide? To the extent that they say there is a place called Sambisa forest. I have been there. I didn’t see a forest. It is just shrubs here and there.
“So we have deployed the Nigerian military which used to be one of the best in the world. They have fought, you know, a number of the international arena and they have excelled and here we have deployed them with their might and everything and we just could not eliminate Boko Haram. So I am puzzled. So maybe when I get there, I will understand, but honestly, I cannot understand the Boko Haram phenomenon.
“Everything is there. Politics is there, business is there, security, everything. Of course, the solution is leadership, strong leadership to deal with all these interest groups within the military and outside the military.”
When asked about his position on militancy if it arose again in the PDP administration, Okowa said with appropriate leadership, there would not be a recurrence of such in the South-South.
He said: “I believe that once you provide the needed governance, it is unlikely that militancy will return. You first need to ask what led to that. People felt ignored. People felt excluded from governors, they were not seeing the infrastructure. Their children didn’t find the space to get properly educated, to get access to justice.”
Atiku also disclosed his plan to remove subsidy and negotiate with relevant stakeholders to provide palliatives for citizens.
He said: “I have already announced that we are going to remove subsidy and then of course negotiate with all stakeholders on how we can establish palliatives for removing subsidies.
“Whether we decide to remove subsidy or not, based on the Petroleum Industry Act, by June next year, subsidy will have to stop and that is the law that has been passed by the National Assembly. But as far back as last election season, I announced that I was going to remove subsidy.”