President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said though it might take a bit longer, the nation would surely overcome the challenges associated with the insurgency in the Northeast, and move ahead as a nation.
He spoke at the Aso Rock Villa while receiving the European Union (EU) Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic.
In reference to 1967-1970 civil war that pitched the Nigerians government against the then separatist southeastern region of Biafra, which killed and displaced millions of persons, Buhari told his guest that the prevailing problems in the Northeast were not unsurmountable.
“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.
“I assure you of Nigeria’s commitment to enhance and deepen cooperation with the EU in all areas.
“Our priorities in the next level is 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 that Nigeria is capable of handling this crisis, it may take long but we are capable of handling it.”
The Nigerian leader also appreciated the recent meeting in Germany which deliberated on the happenings in Libya.
“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.”
President Buhari further gave his word that the newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, will do a splendid job of managing the various humanitarian issues evolving from the Northeast.
“I assure you that we are aware of these problems and we will continue to do our best. The newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs 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. He said he had visited Borno State and appreciates government’s efforts to end the conflict there.
“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”, he stated.