President Goodluck Jonathan gave the hint on Sunday night that he may apply to the National Assembly to seek its approval for an extension of the state of emergency in three North-East states affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.
The president, who made this known during a media chat yesterday at the Presidential Villa, explained that the ongoing military operation in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states was succeeding and there was need to sustain it.
“Terrorism is not a phenomenon that you think within a state of emergency of six months or one year you wipe it out. It has not happened anywhere in the world”, the president said.
A state of emergency was proclaimed in the three states last May for an initial duration of six months, which was extended for another six months in November.
It expires later this month, but there are calls from the affected areas not to extend it on grounds that the existing emergency rule had not achieved the desired results.
Asked by the panel of journalists if he would extend the emergency rule proclamation, President Jonathan said: “We are consulting with the security and relevant agencies. When we need to extend we will extend it because I believe that we are succeeding and it’s very helpful for the operation to go on.
“Without that the security operatives in those places would be so frustrated. We would prefer to pull them out than to allow them to stay there and be frustrated”.
The president claimed that those against the extension took the position out of frustration that terrorism had not stopped in the affected states.
But he added: “If somebody said that the state of emergency is not successful they are not being realistic”.
He noted that terrorism “is not getting worse in the country”, because the security agencies had helped to curtail its frequency compared to when it first started.
The president added that security agencies were capable of curtailing insurgency and that government was working hard to equip and improve their capacity.
“I have just approved the request for recruitment of more personnel and building capacity”, he said.
On the abducted schoolgirls in Borno, Jonathan pledged that wherever they were taken to by their abductors, his administration would do everything to get them back.
“Wherever these girls are, we will surely get them back”, Jonathan said.
“What we request is the maximum cooperation of the parents of these girls; we are pleading that they should cooperate with us by releasing the identity of these girls”.
He weighed in on the controversy surrounding the publishing of the abducted girls’ details, saying since majority of the girls are Christians, there should be no cultural restrictions in giving out their photographs.
He said government forces had combed all the communities that the girls could possibly be without any trace of them.
As a result, security operatives have widened their scope beyond those places.
Asked if it was true that there were ongoing negotiations to get the girls freed, the president said: “You cannot negotiate with somebody you don’t know. Nobody has claimed ownership of this abduction, nobody. Even through the Twitter or the other social media that the Boko Haram normally use to show what they have done”.
Jonathan also said he had sought for help from the United States with “superior” intelligence to fight the Boko Haram insurgency.
On his much vaunted presidential ambition in 2015, Jonathan said: “I have always said that this should not be a concern to Nigerians.
“Rather what they should be concerned about is how do we manage the economy, improve the security and guarantee free and fair election?
“Whether Jonathan declares or not should not be an issue. The PDP and the APC are the major parties now. The APC has not even announced its own presidential candidate and you are asking the ruling party to do so”.