Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari
WEST AFRICA —In an unequivocal address to Nigerians after returning from the UK where he spent a little over three months of medical leave, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said his government will bolster its crusade against the Islamic extremist insurgency in the country’s northeast.
“Terrorists and criminals must be fought and destroyed relentlessly so that most us can live in peace and safety,” Buhari said in a televised speech on Monday. “Therefore, we are going to reinforce and reinvigorate the fight not only against elements of Boko Haram which are attempting a new series of attacks on soft targets, kidnappings, farmers versus herdsmen clashes, in addition to ethnic violence fueled by political mischief makers. We shall tackle them all.”
The Nigerian leader returned Saturday to Abuja to begin his official duties as head of state and commander in chief, even though he made no statements upon his arrival to the capital Abuja.
In his address, the 74-years old leader, did not say what illness led him to depart Nigeria in May for treatment in London. He however thanked Nigerians for their prayers and calm.
“I am pleased to be back on home soil among my brothers and sisters,” Buhari said.
Neither the government nor his ruling political party has made any statement about the illness that caused the president to visit and stay a lengthy period in Britain.
During the president prolonged stay in the UK, some Nigerians were calling for his replacement while also calling on the military to be loyal.
During his nationwide address, the president spoke about political divisions in the country and called for national unity in Nigeria.
“Nigerians are robust and lively in discussing their affairs, but I was distressed to notice that some of the comments, especially in the social media have crossed our national red lines by daring to question our collective existence as a nation. This is a step too far,” he said.
Despite the president’s empowering speech, analysts say Nigeria’s ongoing challenges include terrorism, especially the deadly Boko Haram insurgency as well as a weak economy and the serious humanitarian crises, with millions malnourished in the northeast.
While Buhari was away for three months, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo acted as president.