President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday signalled Nigeria’s readiness to reopen its land borders shut in August 2019 to curb commodity and small arms’ smuggling.
According to him, since neighbouring countries, have now learnt their lessons with the border closure, there is a need to review the decision.
But the president, who spoke at a meeting with governors of the 36 states of the federation, which held behind closed doors in the State House, Abuja did not give a definite time on when the land borders will be reopened.
“Now that the message has sunk in with our neighbours, we are looking into reopening the borders as soon as possible,” he said.
A statement by a presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, said the president tasked the governors to work closely with traditional rulers and community members with a view to improving local intelligence gathering and complimenting the work of security agencies.
The statement, which also said the president listened to presentations from governors from each of the six geo-political zones of the country on the peculiar security challenges confronting their zones added that in the past, communities identified strange faces and passed information to constituted authority.
The president restated that the West African sub-region is not as safe as a result of the earlier movements of arms across the borders following the death of the former President of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi.
“The sub-region is no longer safe, more so with the collapse of the former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and the cross border movement of weapons and criminals. Governors must work with traditional rulers. Try and work with traditional rulers to boost intelligence gathering,” the president said.
Buhari also told the governors that the military will continue to get the support they need to fight criminals, adding that armoured cars and some equipment have been delivered to the military in recent times while training of military personnel are also ongoing and some military aircraft are being awaited.
“I am not going to the public to speak about the vehicles and equipment we have ordered. What I can say is that the military received armoured cars and other equipment and they are training the trainers. More of such equipment, including military aircraft will come in,” he stated.
Buhari spoke on the October #EndSARS protests and how they were hijacked by hoodlums who destroyed private and public property, insisting that no such situation will be allowed again.
He said: “We do not stop anyone from demonstrating, but you don’t set up roadblocks and smash windscreens. Which government will allow that?’’
Buhari berated the foreign press, particularly the CNN and BBC, saying that their coverage of the violence that accompanied the protests was unbalanced.
He cited the number of policemen killed, police stations razed and prisons forced open for inmates to escape during the protests to buttress his position.
“I was disgusted by the coverage, which did not give attention to the policemen that were killed, the stations that were burnt, and prisons that were opened. (They said we are all at fault. We don’t have the sympathy of anyone. We are on our own),” he stated.
He reiterated his decision never to condone violent demonstrations again because “democracy does not mean confusion or lack of accountability.’’
Buhari also criticised the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for embarking on an eight-month strike and refusing to shift grounds.
He described the lecturers’ action as insensitive to the numerous challenges confronting the country.
“Government conceded something. The problem is that they refused to look at the problem of the whole country. The Minister of Labour is working hard at it. It is amazing how ASUU will stay out of classrooms for so long. There’s a need for our elites to understand the challenges facing the country,” he said.