Minister of Culture and National Orientation and Supervising Minister of Information, Chief Edem Duke speaks on the preparations for the forthcoming election and calls on Nigerians to hold those who are threatening violence if they lose the election accountable. He also speaks on a number of other national issues. Excerpts:
The argument has been that if the government has not been able to decisively tackle insurgency in 6 years, with just few weeks to election, what will the government do differently. Some people have argued that it was a deliberate ploy by the government. What do you have to say?
I think again that that statement arises from ignorance because first and foremost, the issue of the insurgency is not a peculiarly a Nigerian issue. It is a global issue with a specific focus on Nigeria and countries bordering around Nigeria. And you could see the futility in the effort battling insurgents and having them escape into neighbouring countries, regrouping and re-launching attacks from some of those territories.
So it was identified that for this to be checkmated effectively, there is need to now mobilize the support of countries in the Lake Chad region, of countries in West and Central Africa so that there is a more holistic, more participatory engagement of insurgency.
And all over the world where insurgency has occurred, you will agree with me that it is a multi-dimensional approach that had always been deployed to attend to it.
So some of these stories and propaganda are deliberately fabricated in order to make the government look bad and you would see that when government began to record some successes, some of those who had thought that it would not be done, began to feel unhappy about it. They began to wish secretly that these successes against the insurgency were not happening because some of them premised their campaign on insecurity.
And let me also say that it is not how long it has taken us to address this issue but the fact that it has been addressed. And also bear in mind that those who want to use the issue of security or insecurity or insurgency to campaign had always been there, they had always been big players, big community leaders, big retired generals in certain parts of the country and they never lifted a finger to give advice, to give support and to intervene.
In fact, I understand that one of them was nominated by the insurgents to be their spokesperson but he felt embarrassed that they openly identified him as their preferred spokesperson. And these people never contributed thoughts and ideas in challenging this.
Rather, they sat back and saw the destruction that plagued the nation within and around where they were living and they thought the best thing to do was to fuel it or to keep silent so that at some point in 2015 they can use it as campaign propaganda. But the providence that sees that Nigeria after 100 years must not disintegrate has brought a solution.
In the next couple of days chiefs of defence staff from ECOWAS, from Central Africa countries, will be gathering in order to develop a roadmap for the final onslaught on this insurgency.
So, Nigerians should continue to give the government the necessary support and encouragement and more importantly they should continue to celebrate and appreciate the forces that are operating in those territories.