By Jonathan Ugbal; Government House Correspondent
The Cross River State Government Wednesday in Calabar called on the Nigerian armed forces to go tough on criminal elements in the South South region.
The deputy governor, Professor Ivara Esu stated this when he received a dispatch of principal officers of the Nigeria Army led by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai when the paid a courtesy visit to him at government house Calabar as part of their itinerary to brief him on the “Operation Crocodile Tears” launched recently.
Esu who lauded the current Army hierarchy for restoring calm in the North East, joked on the code name of their current operation which drew laughter from those present. He said that; “We have no choice as a government than to give you all the support that you need in these exercise of operation crocodile smile.
“I was even thinking that the crocodile smile is that all the militants, the criminals, would be fed to the crocodile, but then you see it is to train the officers in our various operations.
“We are happy but if you have opportunities to feed kidnappers to crocodile please do it” he said maintaining that; “We are happy in Cross River, recently there was a time we had an upsurge from militants to kidnapping and then armed robbery and so on but we are happy that, that has gone down. We would not want to see that happen again. We want to ensure that even with this our operation that we would enjoy in Cross River State they say don’t have oil so we don’t get anything from the 13% derivation, all we need is, we need peace so that we can forge ahead and look for resources to run our government and make sure our people are happy and safe.”
On the strides made so far in the leadership approach, He pointed out that; “All my years of growing up I never saw a chief of army staff being right in front of the war front with his soldiers.
“You were the first one I saw working hand in hand with other ranks in the war front and am talking of in the North East, where we had the Boko Haram insurgents and all of us are witnesses to how very quickly you motivated the rest of the soldiers and the entire armed forces to ensure that Boko Haram is actually becoming a thing of the past” Esu said.
Continuing, Esu who apologized for the absence of Governor Ben Ayade also said that; “In the past it was very difficult seeing a GOC because they just stay at the back and give the command for others to carry out but this time around everybody is mobilized and that is leadership by example and it looks to be that even for us in the political arena we are copying from you and you can see that because of what is happening. Even your officers, even at the level of service commander they are copying from you.”
Earlier, Buratai in his remarks said the exercise was aimed at training Army officers on Amphibious tactics as it has been long since it was carried out to enable the Army to be combat ready when the need arises in the Niger Delta region.
“The exercise is aimed at training our troops in the riverine environment in particularly in terms of amphibious operations” Buratai said.
“This is a special terrain in this area the Niger Delta in particular and it requires constant training. it has been long when we last held such exercise where our troops would familiarize with the various aspect of our operations in the riverine environment.
“This is important to know in fear of the challenges we have been facing here in the Niger Delta or the south south region in general. So this is a preparatory exercise, a training exercise, we are to get our troops exercised in camps of various operations in very difficult terrain carrying out patrols. As well as where necessary rescue operations as the case may be. In fear of various challenges in terms of kidnapping sea piracy and the rest” added Buratai.
Furthermore, the Army chief commended the warm reception accorded them and praised the existing relationship between the state and the Army which he said will be strengthened.
Also, he lauded the support from sister security agencies in securing the country’s territorial integrity even as he hoped that such will continue.
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