The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says it is supporting President Goodluck Jonathan that the military Joint Task Force (JTF) would only be withdrawn from Borno State if the elders of the state commit to an inviolable undertaking under which they would be responsible for further killings and destruction by the Boko Haram sect.
In a statement on Saturday by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, the party said Jonathan’s position clearly shows his forthrightness and great concern for the safety of Nigerians including those living in Borno and other troubled spots in the country.
President Jonathan and the PDP, the statement said, fully understand and deeply share in the worries of Borno elders on the imperative of cessation of violence and restoration of peace in order to enable social and economic activities.
Furthermore, it commended the President for his “well thought-out humane” handling of the situation, praising him for the “successes” recorded so far by security agencies and for his unrelenting commitment to the improved welfare of Nigerians.”
It called Jonathan’s approach “a direct challenge to all of us, especially those from the troubled areas to rise to the occasion and re-engage dispassionate avuncular responsibilities in genuine search for peace."
“Our great Party understands and deeply shares in the worries of the Borno elders over the protracted insurgency in the region and its grave implications for social and economic activities. However, we deem it necessary that the elders accept this challenge and reflect in-depth on their preeminent position as a cardinal portal of peace as connoted in the assertion by the President."
The PDP also commended the President for the heart to heart discussion with elders of Borno and Yobe State and for sparing time to visit some orphanages saying such was an indication of his concern for vulnerable Nigerians.
The PDP, which seems nervous about the widespread criticism of Jonathan for his failures over Boko Haram, took the opportunity to take pot shots at the opposition. "The President was not in Borno and Yobe for photo-ops and showmanship as did the Governors of the opposition APC who cooed in the streets of Maiduguri and boasted in the media to invite attention to themselves. The President was on a genuine mission for peace and development."
The PDP said it strongly believes that the efforts of the Jonathan administration will succeed in checking the security challenges as witnessed by the successes already recorded by the security agencies and further appealed to those behind the violent attacks in the country to have a rethink. "Life is sacrosanct and nobody has the right to shed innocent blood under any guise," the statement said.
After nearly two years in office during which citizens in the northeastern part of the country have been trapped between the menace of Boko Haram and the undiscriminating reprisals of the JTF, President Jonathan finally visited the area last week. It is the local perception of the excesses of the JTF that is responsible for the demand that they be withdrawn.
In 2011, Jonathan promised he would defeat Boko Haram by June 2012, following which the militants simply elevated the level of their attacks and barbarity.