The number one mistake people make when they are dealing with this very pertinent and delicate situation is not to allude to the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan inherited most of the problems currently facing this sociopolitical entity called Nigeria from his predecessor administrations.
We forget to appreciate the fact that our President inherited a very deplorable and corruption infused system that is capable of delaying the progress of a newly constituted transformation agenda.
Having said this, I was opportune to be present at the seminar organized by the Institute of Security Studies, which took place on the 11 February 2015 at Pretoria. One of the speakers representing Nigerian Professionals Guild either knowingly or unknowingly alluded to the fact that military action should not be an option with regard to this fight against Boko Haram. Assertions were made by this speaker that Boko Haram should be negotiated with, citing the ‘initial’ peaceful nature of the organization prior to their radicalization by the Nigerian Security forces due to what he described as the authorities ‘high-handedness’. Mohammed Yusuf was cast a harmless saintly monk preaching peace in the North East. Mohammed Yusuf that wedged a campaign of terror burning security agent's offices and even personally beheading clerics of other religions?
It is on record that the federal Government of Nigeria has extended such goodwill severally towards Boko Haram -albeit the organizations brutal and despicable history. On April 24, 2013; President Goodluck Johnathan instituted a go-between group tagged “Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North.” The committee, a Presidential statement said and I quote, “has been given the task of identifying and constructively engaging key leaders of Boko Haram, and developing a workable framework for amnesty and disarmament of members of the group.” .This committee was headed by the then Special Duties Minister Kabiru Tanimu Turaki and its personnel was made up of former and current Government officials, religious authorities and human rights activists.
Having rejected these numerous overtures for peace and cessation of hostilities, Jonathan has countered with military force, Boko Haram’s quest to carve out an autonomous territory where medieval ideologies would be brutally imposed on willing and unwilling citizens. Twice from January to July 2012 and again on May 15, 2013, he imposed ‘State of Emergency’ on areas affected by Boko Haram’s brutal insurgency, particularly Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa States.
Although the establishment of the Committee on Dialogue reflects the speaker’s acknowledgment that purely military means cannot eradicate the group or solve this problem, it is also consistent with policymaking tendencies toward Boko Haram that are reactive, ad hoc, and cyclical. Proponents of this dialogue process hope it will break the cycle of cracking down and muddling through in the aftermath of military operations. Yet even dialogue face obstacles, and Nigeria has to look no farther than its own Niger Delta to find lessons on the limitations of amnesty programs.
This same speaker agreed to a certain line of thinking that that Boko Haram’s fight and struggles were precipitated by the extra-judicial killing of the ‘peaceful’ founder of the group Aliyu Mohammed. I ask- why was Aliyu Mohammed killed? Who was responsible for the burning of the Christian places of worship in northern Nigeria? Why ask for justice for a known orchestrator of inferno and mayhem while his victim’s bloods are crying for justice? I believe that we should all do our research clearly and comprehensibly before we start making insinuations that will deceive a public without sufficient information on this issue which is threatening the unity and secularity of Nigeria and security in the whole of the Lake Chad basin.
Often times, I have tried to liken the Boko haram struggle to that of the Niger Delta militants of yesteryears but to no avail. The modalities are entirely different. Firstly, you cannot negotiate with a set of individuals who are not even willing to talk peace. Secondly, we should ask ourselves this question “what is it the Boko Haram is fighting for?”. Unlike the Niger Delta militants who were hell bent on having a fair share of the proceeds and the accruals of their oil-rich region to deal with their regions infrastructural development and severe environmental degradation due to pollution, what is the main purpose for which Boko Haram is wedging its murderous rampage? ”Fight against Western Education and imposition of a strict medieval Islamic system of justice on all Nigerian citizens -including moderate Muslims and over eighty million plus non-Muslims?”It is indeed more disheartening that they do not want to negotiate in the first place.
Let us agree to disagree. In a scenario like the aforementioned, should the federal Government of Nigeria assume an akimbo position and do absolutely nothing while innocent people especially women and children are being massacred, raped and displaced on a daily basis?....There are a lot of pertinent questions that this speaker in question did not do much to answer.
Regardless, I as many Nigerians may not be entirely satisfied with the manner in which the Government and Security forces of Nigeria have handled the whole saga. I am more concerned with the fact the speaker deliberately succumbed to the pressure to distort facts (which unfortunately has become a tactic of a section wedging a campaign of calumny against the person of the president as incapable) and have tried to place do the unfathomable -placing a halo of infallibility on the heads of the leadership of Boko Haram! In fact, he blatantly “propagandized” and politicized the whole discussion to my shock and awe.