By Salisu Sani-Idris, Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday reiterated the commitment of his administration to tackle terrorists and bandits who have been putting their knees on the necks of Nigerians.
The president gave the assurance at the Citizens Summit for National Integration, Peace and Security, convened by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations and Partners in Abuja.
The summit has “Reopen Conversation, Rebuild Trust” as its theme.
Represented by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Buhari assured Nigerians that just like his administration had put the seemingly-intractable farmers-herders’ crisis under control, it would also successfully tackle the terrorists and bandits.
Buhari said: “As our security agencies put them on the run, they will no longer be able to carry out their deadly attacks as well as kidnappings.
“Peace and security will return to our country, and our unity will be strengthened.
“We have directed the military to crush those terrorising our citizens, peace and security are gradually being restored to the country.
“In the past couple of days, you must have heard about the number of terrorists neutralized by the military and number of hostages freed.”
The president said that these efforts would not stop or diminish, adding: “We must take the fight to the terrorists and demonstrate that there is no hiding place for them within the borders of our country.
“Each one of them will be hunted and pursued, and spoken to in the language that they understand.”
Buhari, who commended the gallant men and women in uniform, appealed to all compatriots to continue to support them in their onerous task of keeping the country safe.
“We must also realize that security is the business of everyone, hence the tagline: ‘if you see something, say something’.
“Terrorists or bandits are not spirits. They are human beings and they reside in our communities.
“They must all be exposed and crushed for peace to reign,” he said
The president challenged the institute to use its powerful platform to speak out against those fanning the embers of disunity and discord in the country.
“In recent times, in particular, the issues of peace and security have been on the lips of many Nigerians, against the backdrop of rampaging terrorists, bandits and kidnappers.
“This crisis of insecurity has, unfortunately, been exacerbated by the twin evil of fake news and misinformation.”
Buhari said that fake news and misinformation were exacerbating insecurity, fuelling apprehension among the citizens and demoralizing the security agencies.
He said: “Let me cite some recent instances of fake news and misinformation in this regard.
“On Aug. 10, the Kaduna State Government had to debunk an online report claiming that hundreds of bandits had laid a siege on the Kaduna-Zaria road.
“The widely circulated message even advised travellers not to enter or leave Zaria, due to the presence of bandits at Dumbi and Jaji along the Zaria road.
“Imagine the apprehension and disruption of plans that this fake news could have caused.
“Imagine its impact on the security agencies who are doing everything, including paying the ultimate price, to keep us safe.”
The president also recalled that in April 2022, a drone video went viral showing a group of five men wearing red clothes and cooking inside an unknown forest.
“Those circulating the video claimed that it was somewhere in Nigeria.
“But when the BBC did a fact-check on the drone video, it discovered that it was not in Nigeria.
“The video was circulated just to create panic among the citizens and put the society on edge,” Buhari added.
Earlier, the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, commended the Buhari-administration for its strong and unwavering commitment towards resolving most of the socio-economic and political challenges facing the country.
Bello, therefore, urged the institute, as managers of public perceptions, to push forward in identifying workable solutions to enhancing national integration.
Also, the President of the institute, Malam Mukhtar Sirajo, said that the task of rebuilding Nigeria was very enormous and demanding.
He expressed the readiness of the institute to join efforts with government and other well-meaning Nigerians individually and cooperate to drive the process to a logical conclusion.
“The institute believes no sacrifice is too much for a nation like Nigeria, which God has bestowed with outstanding people and resources.
“It is for this reason that we challenge government organisations and individuals to always place Nigeria first above personal and any other interest,” Sirajo added.
Dignitaries at the summit include a former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, former Gov. Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State and Rep. Ado Doguwa, among others.