Determined to tackle insurgency in Nigeria, the United Nations (UN) Thursday disclosed that it had adopted a new strategy that would assist the Federal Government in curbing the Boko Haram whose activities have claimed several lives.
In a related development, a report by the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA) has stated that Nigeria recorded 60,858 violent deaths within the last eight years, with road accidents responsible for most of the deaths.
Besides, the Presidency has faulted insinuations in some quarters about the alleged lack of commitments on the part of the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration to locate the over 200 female students of the Government Secondary School (GSS) Chibok in Borno State abducted since April 14.
In the same vein, suspected insurgents yesterday blocked one of the main routes into Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, thereby forcing motorists to make a detour which took longer time.
Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for West Africa, Said Djinnit disclosed the fresh move yesterday at the opening of the 45th Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States, (ECOWAS) at its two-day summit in Accra, the Ghanaian capital.
He however, expressed satisfaction in the support of sub-regional body to the counter-terrorism efforts of the Federal Government in tackling the insurgents.
Known as an integrated support package, (ISP), the UN official said the strategy was designed at complementing on going efforts of the Nigerian government, which could only achieve results through a multi-dimensional approach.
The UN representative explained that the current support from ECOWAS was also a reflection of the solidarity of the countries of the region and their legitimate concern about the spread of violent extremism.
“The UN has adopted an integrated support package to complement Nigeria’s efforts, since we are convinced that only a multi-dimensional approach can bring lasting solution to the crisis.
“Our primary and immediate concern is the plight of children including in particular those that are being held in captivity by the terrorists, Boko Haram group as well as the fate of the civilian population in the North East, where human rights and humanitarian conditions are distressing,” he added.
While stating that Nigeria, in line with global tend would have recorded a decrease in violence rate if not for the activities of Boko Haram, the report which was presented in Abuja yesterday, however, noted that road accidents were responsible for most of the violent deaths in Nigeria.
Travellers to the southern part of the state had to go through Maiduguri and Damaturu road into Gombe State to reconnect the state before getting to their respective destinations.
The Guardian also gathered that many motorists and passengers on the 187- kilometre Maiduguri-Damboa-Biu road were forced to make U-turn as they were attacked at different spots.
According to Prof. Marc-Antoine Perouse de Montclos, Associate Fellow, Africa programme, who made the presentation, this should call attention on the need for maintenance of roads, better funding of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and better driving attitude for Nigerian motorists as well as good maintenance culture for oil tanker owners as many deaths are recorded from oil tanker explosions.
The report, which was done in collaboration with the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP), stated that between June 2006 and May 2014, 14,006 lethal incidents were recorded leading to over 60,000 deaths. The report is tagged Nigeria Watch: Fourth Report on Violence (2006-2014).
Prof. Marc-Antoine noted also that crime, political conflicts, ethno-religious fighting and economic issues are the other causes of violent deaths in Nigeria in the order of their importance.
“We observe an increase in violence since 2012 because of the Boko Haram crisis. Political fighting is the cyclical violence we could identify, and this was during the elections of April 2007 and April 2011. Oil distribution is much more dangerous than oil production. The Nigerian security forces are responsible for many killings on a daily basis’’, he said, adding that few foreigners are killed in Nigeria.
Writing in an Opinion Page of The Washington Times published on Wednesday, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said while the concerns that have been expressed over the abduction of the girls the secondary school in Nigeria since April 14 was “legitimate and understandable”, “What is not fair, and which stands out in many of the criticisms directed at the Nigerian government, is the attempt to ignore the issues and argue that President Jonathan is the problem.
“This attempt to turn the matter of the abducted girls into a referendum on the Jonathan administration has resulted in a complete misreading of the situation and much deliberate mischief fueled by ignorance and sponsored propaganda.”
Citing what he called Karen Attiah’s morbid satire, “What Nigerian President should have written” (The Washington Post, July 3) Abati claimed the author of the piece merely repeated “worn misconceptions about the Chibok incident and the efforts of the Jonathan administration in Nigeria to find and rescue the abducted girls.
“The most popular misconception is the notion that the Jonathan administration has consciously adopted a ‘do-nothing’ strategy, and that the government only responded and considered international partnership necessary after pressure was mounted on it to do something.”
The Presidential spokesman traced the history of Boko Haram threat to as far back as 2002, but admitted that it had become a much bigger menace, and a full-scale terrorist movement, by the time Jonathan assumed office in 2010.