President Muhammadu Buhari is not ruling out the military option in stamping out oil pipeline bombings and vandalism in the Niger Delta region.
He declared yesterday that while government’s priority in resolving the Niger Delta crisis remains constructive engagement of the stakeholders for peace, it would not hesitate to deploy soldiers against the brains behind the destruction should dialogue fail.
Buhari issued the warning at the passing out parade of the 63rd regular course cadets comprising the first set of Female combatant cadets at the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna.
The cadets comprised 59 personnel for the Army, 40 for the Navy and 29 for the Air Force.
He said the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta, the Boko Haram menace, kidnapping and cattle rustling have been having dangerous consequences on the economy.
He said:”The repeated attacks in the Niger Delta have been impacting negatively on oil revenues. The scourge of illegal Small Arms and Light Weapons, and the drugs war, among others, remain issues which we are tackling seriously.”
“Recently, we flagged off the Clean-up of Ogoniland, as part of the programmes to salvage the ravaged environment. We are convinced that undertaking such a monumental project will contribute to addressing the root causes of militancy in some parts of the Niger Delta region.
“For the avoidance of doubt let me state that other options are still open including decisive military action, if necessary, to deal with the criminal elements disguised in ethnic regalia to sabotage the country largely for their selfish and parochial interests.
“However, our priority still remains constructive engagement of the stakeholders for peace.”
He hailed members of the armed forces for their commitment, which he said, has gone a long way in curtailing the activities of Boko Haram in the North-East, especially since he assumed office.
He said: “You will all recall that this Administration inherited a badly managed Boko Haram insurgency in the North East. The violence even spread beyond North Eastern states. But the capacity of the insurgents to launch attacks has now been significantly curtailed.
“Boko Haram’s capacity to hold territories has been obliterated. What is on-going now are mop up operations to clear the remnants of the insurgents from their numerous hideouts.
“All these successes are largely the efforts of our gallant troops of the Nigerian Military. I therefore commend our men and women in uniform and the intelligence community for their roles in dealing with the emerging threats.”
Buhari noted that with terrorism and insurgency assuming global phenomena, international cooperation is now required to reverse the trend.
It was in appreciation of this, he said, that Nigeria has strengthened its participation in the Multi-National Joint Task Force.
He added:”We expect that other countries in the sub-region will continue to give the MNJTF and our efforts maximum cooperation. Some of our diplomatic shuttles to Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Benin have significantly contributed to defeating Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in the sub-region.”
He described the parade by the cadets as excellent and a testimony to the high standard of training and discipline the Academy has set.
He particularly hailed the graduation of female cadets for the first time in the 52 year history of the NDA.
He charged the new officers to be of good character and “endeavour to be patriotic and exhibit the highest level of discipline and loyalty to one Nigeria.
The President also presented awards to six cadets at the ceremony.
A.D Mohammed won the Sword of Honour award as the best all-round cadet. He also won the Commandant’s award and the Army Gold award.
The Army Silver award was won by K. O Dayo-Karim.
For Navy, C Lord-Mallam won the Gold award while P. E Miyaptong won the Silver award
The Air Force Gold award was won by M. U Aminu, while the Silver award was won O. S Ijelu.
The President later proceeded to the Professor Yakubu Mahmud Multi-purpose Hall to confer the cadets with presidential commission, ministered oath of allegiance on the cadets and the cadets were also given flag of allegiance.
The NDA Commandant Major General M.T Ibrahim presented a golden shield to the President at the ceremony.