Andrew Orolua, AbujaConcerned Professionals’ Congress (CPC) has lauded and expressed support to moves by the armed forces to provide conducive atmosphere for Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the war-ravaged North East to vote in Saturday and future elections. The moves they acknowledged would yield positive results than the situation in the 2015 elections where many were disenfranchised as their territories were under Boko Haram. The Acting Director of Defence Information, Defence Headquarters, Brig Gen. John Agim, had at a briefing in Abuja assured residents of the North East of adequate security and safety before, during and after the polls. He said that the military had tremendously improved the general public security and safety in the region where security continued to dominate concern in the three affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. Troops of Operation Lafiya Dole have significantly degraded the sect’s capacity and recovered Sambisa Forest, its dreaded stronghold. But for few isolated attacks on soft targets and military formations, normalcy has since returned to the region with over 400,000 IDPs billed to vote in designated camps. In a statement issued yesterday by its Chief Media Strategist, Mr. Emeka Nwankpa and the Northern Regional Rapporteur, Mallam Baba Al-Kasim, the advocacy group praised the military for dislodging Boko Haram terrorists in the North East and restoring normalcy in the region to ensure eligible residents cast their vote. The group urged the military to dislodge those behind the alleged plans to scuttle the forth-coming general elections in parts of the country, saying that the re-assurance has raised public confidence in the will and readiness of the military to protect law-abiding citizens against intimidation and molestation in the elections. They welcomed the military’s timely response to the alleged plans against hitch-tree elections in the country, describing it as a necessary confidence-building gesture to re-assure law-abiding citizens of their security and safety as the nation goes to the polls. It commended the military and other security agencies for their efforts but observed that the political atmosphere today in the build-up to the polls was unlike the events that preceded the 2015 elections. ‘’We have not forgotten so soon that days before the 2015 elections were drumbeats of war which forced many Nigerians to temporarily relocate to their states of origin for fear of their safety. ‘’The situation today is markedly different. We thank God. However, we must not take things for granted because evil-minded elements may be lurking in the corners. Our security agencies must take a cue from our military in emplacing pro-active measures’’, Nwankpa said.
He said that the fact that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has ruled out possible election postponement in the region attested to the sacrifices members of the armed forces had made in the last few years. ‘’The INEC position is understandable. It is fallout of the highly-impactful counter-terrorism operations of the courageous and gallant Nigerian military. Nigeria is blessed with a military with the heart, spirit and soul to defend the country and its people. ‘’We have confidence in the current military leadership led by the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin. His team successfully changed the dynamics of the fight against terrorism immediately after President Muhammadu Buhari selected them. They have done the nation proud. ‘’We must pause and remind ourselves where we were and where we are now and what has happened in-between. The Borno State people know that our military has done very well in the last three and half years, dislodging Boko Haram to give them peace. ‘’Our military has set the stage for hitch-free elections as normalcy has returned to parts of the North East that were hit by insurgency. Night life has returned to Maiduguri and its environs. Regular commercial flights onto the city have increased. Hotel accommodation in Maiduguri is scarce which goes to prove that the troops have significantly fast-tracked the return of peace to the region. The nation owes them a gratitude,’’ Nwankpa said. The group commended the military for successfully check-mating threats to national stability through its existing operational strategies such as Op Whirl Punch along Abuja-Kaduna axis, Op Sharan Daji in North West of Zamfara, Kaduna, Birnin-Gwari axis, Op Safe Haven in Plateau-Bauchi, Op Whirl Stroke in Makurdi, Nasarawa and Taraba, Op Awatse in Lagos-Ogun, Op Clearance in Kogi and Op Delta Safe in the Niger Delta. On the on-going military Exercise Egwu Eke III (Python Dance III), the group allayed unfounded public fears, saying that the operations were part of efforts by the military to support other security agencies to ensure that no Nigerian is disenfranchised at the polls.