President Muhammadu Buhari has once again hit back at his critics who accuse him of bias in tackling the herdsmen-farmers crisis that has claimed many lives in the country.
The President who received the leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) from the 19 northern states on Thursday said his administration was doing its best to address the issue.
“To suggest that our Administration is doing nothing is terribly unfair,” he told his guests at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
“We must not forget that the same Plateau State which has been crisis-ridden for years has in the past three years been celebrated for its peacefulness. The Governor’s hard work for peace and the presence of the military’s Operation Safe Haven must have had some impact,” President Buhari added.
He decried the situation where some persons attempted to suggest that his government was doing nothing about the killings because he was being Fulani, for political purposes.
The President said such cases seemed to him that there was no limit to the evil in the minds of men.
He questioned, “How can anyone in their right minds suggest that I, as an elected President even with substantial votes in the affected areas, will for any reason do harm by an act of omission to those same people?
“Secondly, the problems in all these areas, as you all know, are historical. There is no administration that has not had to contend with killings in these same areas over the years.”
President Buhari recalled that a State of Emergency was declared, and a governor was replaced by an administrator after thousands were killed in Plateau State in 2001.
He, however, said the Federal Government has improved security measures in the troubled states in recent weeks by beefing security strength with the deployment of extra Special Forces from the Defence Headquarters.
The President informed the Christian leaders that government currently has at least three special military intervention forces in the troubled zones.
He listed them to include Operation Safe Haven to secure Plateau, Operation Whirl Stroke 1 (OPWS) to secure Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa, as well as OPWS 2 to secure Zamfara and Kaduna states.
President Buhari added that the forces were being supported with investigative and intelligence gathering capabilities from the police, Department of State Services, and other agencies.
He insisted that government can achieve lasting peace only with the sincere and active cooperation of communities, religious leaders, youths and other stakeholders.
The President also seeks the support of the media in “whose hands lies the power to frame and shape the perspectives and narratives which influence the thinking of millions of people within and outside Nigeria.”
“Finally, let us collectively shame those who are stoking the fires of ethnic and religious conflicts for their short-term political gains. This country belongs equally to Christians and Muslims and even those who claim ignorance of God,” he appealed.