President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday forwarded a letter to the National Assembly, asking the lawmakers to urgently approve a $1bn external loan for the Federal Government to confront the terrorist Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
The letter dated July 15, 2014, was read on the floor of the Senate and that of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, by the Senate President David Mark and Speaker Aminu Tambuwal respectively.
In the letter, Jonathan explained that the external loan was urgently needed to upgrade the equipment, training and logistics of the Armed Forces and security services in order to enable them to confront the insurgents more forcefully.
The letter titled, “Tackling Ongoing Security Challenges: Need for Urgent Action”, read in part, “You are no doubt cognisant of the ongoing and serious security challenges which the nation is facing , as typified by the Boko Haram terrorist threat. This is an issue that we have discussed at various times.
“I would like to bring to your attention the urgent need to upgrade the equipment, training and logistics of our Armed Forces and Security Services to enable them more forcefully to confront this serious threat.
“For this reason, I seek the concurrence of the National Assembly for external borrowing of not more than $1bn, including government to government arrangements for this upgrade.”
The National Assembly had in the N4.6tn 2014 Budget provisions, appropriated N968.127bn for Defence on account of the Boko Haram insurgency.
The request may be considered today (Thursday) on account of its urgency because both chambers of the National Assembly may embark on their annual long recess today till the end of September 2014.
Also, speaking at the inauguration of the Theophilus Danjuma-led Victims Support Fund Committee, the President said he promised Nigerians that the government would be victorious in the war against insurgency.
“We owe Nigerians nothing but victory over terror. The life of every Nigerian is precious and we will continue to work round the clock to put an end to this insurgency,” Jonathan said.
The President said the country was confronted with individuals whose minds had been so twisted and tutored to believe they were doing God a service by killing and maiming.
He said the inauguration of the support fund was to kick-start the process of providing succour to the people who had been directly affected one way or the other by acts of terrorism in the country.
The President said, “The year 2009 appears to be a tragic turning point. Boko Haram, an assemblage of heartless individuals, took it upon itself to bring evil upon our country. They have, in their mission, turned women to widows and reduced children to orphans.
“They have killed and maimed and struck fear into law-abiding citizens. They have destroyed villages, attacked property and terminated people’s livelihoods without a care in the world. They have engaged our security agencies in a meaningless warfare that has wasted unimaginable human and material resources.
“The reality today is that we are confronted with individuals whose minds have been so twisted and tutored to believe they are doing God a service.”
The President said those who have been victims of terror needed comfort and succour.
He said, “We cannot replace the life of a child that has been snuffed out. We cannot replace the lives of men and women who have been killed. We cannot return broken limbs to their original state. We cannot take away the trauma that people have been put through.
“Their memories are scared, some for the rest of their lives, over what they knew nothing about. The best we can do in this circumstance is to offer them a shoulder to lean on and to stretch out our hands of fellowship to them and tell them we feel their pains and share in their sorrow.
“The Victim Support Fund Committee is part of our ongoing efforts to provide a comprehensive solution to the menace. This Government is determined to resolve this crisis.”
Also at the occasion, the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), said Danjuma was not the first senior Nigerian that would challenge the government on the insurgency, saying some former Heads of State had told the President the same thing.
Dasuki said the government was ready to draw the battle line.
“I assure Nigerians that we will win the war. But there are some very hard choices that would have to be made. We have so far been more concerned about the lives of a few versus the condition of a few million. The decision has to be made soon,” he said.