John Alechenu, Olalekan Adetayo, Ramon Oladimeji and Kayode Idowu
The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; the Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima; and the APC have commended President Muhammadu Buhari and troops battling the Boko Haram terrorists for the capture of the once dreaded Sambisa Forest and flushing out the terrorists.
Buhari had, on Saturday, announced the fall of Sambisa Forest described as the terrorists’ “ground zero” in military circles.
In a statement on Sunday by his media office, Tinubu also congratulated the nation for last Friday’s onslaught on the insurgents when the Operation Lafiya Dole troops seized Boko Haram’s Camp Zero located in the heart of the Sambisa Forest.
While commending the troops for their bravery and resilience, Tinubu urged Nigerians to spare a moment to pray for the soldiers, who, he said, had given the nation a wonderful Christmas gift by crushing the terrorists.
The former Lagos State governor stated, “I know the insurgents were engaged in their last desperate acts and merely clutching to their last straw. Now, they have been put down. Terror will have no place in our land. The end is here.
“I commend the troops. I thank them again for their courage and bravery. It’s time to finish the job and locate and liberate the remaining Chibok schoolgirls abducted from their school in 2014.
“Let us also spare a thought for the internally displaced persons. We must support them and give them hope.”
Also, the APC described the capture of the Sambisa Forest as a fulfillment of one of Buhari’s campaign promises to secure the nation.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said this in a statement in Abuja on Sunday.
The party commended the Nigerian Armed Forces and the President for the feat of the troops, describing the victory as well-deserved and a welcome development.
It also commended the Nigerian people for the prayers and support offered to the military in the fight against insurgency.
Abdullahi added, “The victory is a fulfilment of one of the key promises made by the party to protect the citizenry and effectively secure all Nigerian territory.
“Going forward, the priority of government is to intensify ongoing efforts at reconstructing and rehabilitating the North-East so that displaced persons can return to their peaceful and productive lives.”
In his reaction on Sunday, the Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, said the capture of Sambisa Forest, was the best gift to the people of the state in his five-year reign.
Shettima spoke at the re-opening of the the Maiduguri-Gubio-Kareto-Damasak Road and the Maiduguri-Monguno-Baga Road, leading to the northern part of Borno State at a ceremony attended by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, along the Gubio Road in Maiduguri.
He described the year as one that witnessed a major breakthrough in the ongoing fight against the Boko Haram insurgency, stating that there could not be any better Christmas gift to the people of the state better than the fall of Sambisa Forest.
The governor said the year was his best in the last five years that he had become the governor of the state.
He said, “Since I became the Governor of Borno State in over five years, this is the best Christmas season I have witnessed; this is the best December I have witnessed and the year, 2016, is my best year so far as the governor of Borno State. 2016 is for me, Nigeria’s year of victory and Borno’s year of hope and resurrection.
“It is in this 2016 that we began to have access to major towns like Gwoza, Bama, Dikwa, Monguno and Damasak following their liberation by our gallant armed forces. “It is in the year 2016 that major highways began to be re-opened.
“It is in the year, 2016 that we accelerated our major reconstruction of liberated communities. It is in the year 2016 that IDPs began to return to communities. It is in the year 2016 that we recovered some of our daughters abducted at the Government Secondary School, Chibok, in 2014. It is in the year 2016, that the Federal Republic of Nigeria established its supremacy over the Sambisa headquarters of the Boko Haram.
“For the government and the good people of Borno State, there is no better Christmas and New Year gift that is more precious than the conquer of Sambisa Forest by our efficient military.”
The governor added that the two roads that were re-opened had significant economic benefits to the people of his state.
“This is an important economic road through which hundreds of trailers convey agricultural produce from farming communities in northern Borno to markets in different parts of Borno State. We are extremely happy to have this road added to the list of other major roads re-opened earlier in 2016.”
The governor commended Buhari, the service chiefs, officers and men of the Nigerian Armed Forces for their roles in the fight against insurgency.
Buratai cautioned troops against extortion of motorists on the road, warning motorists against inducement of soldiers.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, who was represented by the Chief of Administration, said counter insurgency efforts would be sustained to prevent the re-grouping of the insurgents.
Meanwhile, state governors and other political leaders called Buhari on Sunday to congratulate him and the leadership of the armed forces on the takeover of the Sambisa Forest by the Nigerian troops.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, stated this in a statement made available to journalists.
Shehu listed state governors, who had called the President on the matter to include those of Jigawa, Kano, Yobe, Adamawa, Borno, Katsina, Kaduna and Sokoto.
He said other governors from the South-East, South-South, South-West and North-Central states had made similar calls earlier.
Shehu quoted the governors as commending Buhari on the achievement of this feat.
He further quoted them as saying that the feat “has pleased the Nigerian people and is also being celebrated all over the world.”
“There cannot be any meaningful development without security,” they told the President.
The governors also paid tributes to the brave servicemen and women who made supreme sacrifices in the liberation of the Sambisa Forest and hoped that their services would never be forgotten.