I warmly welcome you all to this landmark 10th edition of the ‘PMB Administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023)’. As a quick reminder, we have so far hosted nine Ministers from:
– Works and Housing
– Agriculture and Rural Development
– Finance, Budget and National Planning
– Water Resources
– Mines and Steel Development
2. Today, the 10th edition, we will have a presentation from the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology. The PMB Administration Scorecard Series was launched in October as part of an overall programme to showcase and document the numerous achievements of the Buhari Administration.
3. Before I yield the podium to our guest today, I will like to once again alert the nation to the dangers posed by fake news and
disinformation. I have had a reason to speak on this at this forum, when I warned that fake news and disinformation constitute a clear and present danger to the 2023 election. However, fake news and disinformation, if not checked, can also have a negative impact on our nation’s ongoing fight against terrorism.
4. As you are all aware, an international news agency recently reported that the Nigerian military, in their fight against Boko
Haram/ISWAP, has been running a secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme in the Northeast, ostentibly – according to the news agency – because ‘the children of insurgents are predestined, by the blood in their veins, to one day take up arms against the Nigerian government and society’. The story also claimed that 10,000 such abortions have been carried out from 2013 to date on women and girls. The news agency made this grave allegation without a scintilla of evidence, citing only anonymous sources and the reported review of phantom ‘documents’. The agency claimed that its investigation was based on interviews with 33 women and girls. Interview with 33 women and girls to arrive at the bogus claim of 10,000 abortions? And in a further indication that the figure
of abortions quoted was arbitrary or possibly conjured, the agency first put the figure at 12,000 before settling for 10,000.
5. The Federal Government hereby categorically states that there is no ‘secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme’ being run by our military in the Northeast or anywhere across the country. We also hereby reject the accusation of running an abortion programme levelled at our military, We state categorically that this story is a scary instance of fake news and disinformation combined. The writers deserve an award in fiction writing.
6. The question is: what’s the motive of this news agency and the usual suspects who have latched on to this story? Why is this
so-called investigation coming at a time that our heroic men and women in uniform have been recording successes after successes, decimating the terrorists, rescuing abducted persons and receiving hundreds of thousands of terrorists who have surrendered? For the record, the Nigerian military has rescued 11 Chibok girls with all their children, 2,018 other persons (comprising 339 adult males, 660 adult females and 1019 children), while 82,645 persons, comprising 16,621 male fighters, 24,638 women and 41,386 children, have surrendered. The military has also neutralized 494 terrorists (note that this does not include terrorists neutralized through airstrikes and terrorists’ infighting).
Why is this news agency not playing up these positive news but instead chose to give prominence to a phantom abortion story? Is this a ploy to demoralize and distract our fighting forces? Is it a strategy to set the world against Nigeria and cut off the support that is critical to crushing terrorists? Only the news agency can answer these questions. But we stand by our military, which has served
meritoriously at home, and at regional and global peacekeeping operations from 1960 to date. We know that military operations in the
Northeast are not arbitrary but based on the military’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and Rules of Engagement (ROE), among others.
Where any proven infraction or criminal act has been committed by any soldier, the law has always taken its course. But it is beyond the pale and downright dangerous to accuse a nation’s military, without any verifiable evidence, of massive illegal abortions and infacticide.
7. On this note, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is now my honour and pleasure to invite the Honourable Minister of Science and
Technology to make his presentation.