Friday, July 8, 2011

am, by Obasanjo, ACF, INC

IN  the Federal Government’s quest to check  the  vicious Boko Haram,  it may need to draw insights from  some of the nation’s  prominent  leaders and  organisations.
Such helpful insights yesterday  came from  former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), the Ijaw National Congress (INC), among others. On the surface, the Boko Haram espouses a religious doctrine of hate of western form of civilisation.
Obasanjo  noted that for the Federal Government to effectively address the activities of the Boko Haram, it should  seek adequate information about the  group. Such information, Obasanjo said,  included the motive behind the  group’s actions and its sponsors.
Obasanjo spoke in an interview with journalists at his Hill Top residence in Abeokuta, shortly after he had been honoured  with the award of the “Grand Peace Legend” by the African Peace Foundation (APF). He stressed that for the African continent to witness any progress and development there was an urgent need for peace and stability.
His words: “For the government to effectively solve the Boko Haram problem, Nigeria  requires adequate information on the  motive behind their actions and their sponsors.
“I believe a group of people acting strangely when they are not insane must have their reasons. I believe these people are not insane and so there must be reasons for their actions. Even though you may not necessarily agree with their reasons but we must try and find out why they are doing what they are doing, those behind them both internally and externally.”
Obasanjo added: “We must not take this for granted as the lives of majority of Nigerians are at risk. We need information to tackle the Boko Haram issue. There is so much to know and so much to find out about them. If there is the need to deal with them through the stick and carrot approach, we must be able to know what should be the ‘stick’ and what should be the ‘carrot.’”
Responding to a question on whether amnesty should be granted to the Boko Haram sect, Obasanjo  said he was not against granting of amnesty but quickly added: “I  believe the gesture must be done at an appropriate time and on an appropriate issue.”
He said if amnesty must be granted, the people must not only be identified but the offence committed must be brought out and the necessity of the granting of the amnesty must also be ascertained.
The President General of the APF, Prof. Ola Makinwa, commended  Obasanjo for his contributions  to peace in the country and in Africa.
He disclosed that the award was given to Obasanjo in appreciation of his role in peace on the continent, adding that the former president had also been appointed by the Trustees of the Foundation as the Grand Patron of the African Peace Centre.
According to Makinwa, former South African President, Nelson Mandela is the Grand Patron of the Foundation, but urged Obasanjo “to stand for us in Africa as our hero and Grandfather as Dr. Nelson Mandela is now aged and retired from public service.”
According to ACF, the threat of summary execution by the Federal Government if they surrender and embark on dialogue is the underlying reason the leaders of  Boko Haram may have continued their hostilities in some parts of the north.
The Arewa leaders said  that it was a good development for the officials of the State Security Service (SSS) to have come out to say that they would not prosecute the members of Boko Haram who were arrested recently, rather they may be involved in dialogue with government.
The ACF National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Anthony Sani who spoke with The Guardian yesterday before the start of the forum’s sub-committee meeting, on the forthcoming peace conference, said that the military’s launch  of  an attack on members of Boko Haram in Maiduguri few days ago may hurt the plans to engage them in dialogue.
He said: “To me, I want to believe that the leaders of Boko Haram may want to come out and dialogue with government, but their fear may be that if they come out, the same government may order  their execution. And with  this kind of thinking it may be difficult for them to come out and dialogue.
“This  terrorist kind of war is never contained by force, they would prefer dialogue. If dialogue will solve the problem so be it. Because it is very difficult to win a guerrilla war, guerrilla war in most cases is intended to address political statements.
“And if the Federal Government has decided to go through dialogue so be it. The only thing is that we don’t seem to understand and  what may be contradictory is that the government is speaking different languages. And the military is also speaking a  different language and this may lead to wrong signals.”
According to Sani, “the director off SSS when he got the leaders of the Boko Haram, reportedly said they would not prosecute them and that they wanted to engage them in  dialogue and see if they could persuade them to lay down their arms. And at the same time we are hearing that we shall wipe them out. This is a contradiction.
“If you notice the trend, Sherrif, the former Governor of Borno State has apologised for Boko Haram, Yuguda has also apologized, Goje has apologised; I think that to me is part of the dialogue.”
On its part, the INC said it suspected that the Boko Haram sect had been infiltrated by persons determined to undermine President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and destabilise Nigeria.
Concerned over the recent spate of dastardly attacks by the sect, INC urged  security agencies to investigate the activities of persons who threatened to make Nigeria ungovernable if the President won the April 2011 presidential election, to ascertain if they had links with Boko Haram.
INC spokesperson, Victor Burubo, told The Guardian yesterday that the security agencies and the Federal Government must begin to view Boko Haram from a different perspective due to the  sophistication of the sect’s recent attacks.
According to him, the persons carrying out recent attacks are not almajiris.
“The Federal Government must see Boko Haram in new light. This is no longer the poor children called almajiris causing mayhem. There is a new Boko Haram with sophistication, intelligence, money and possibly with foreign and military backing,” he said.
To  check  Boko Haram, the Borno State government has banned all motorcycles from plying the roads and streets of Maiduguri metropolis and Jere Local Council of the state with immediate effect.
Governor Kashim Shettima made the declarations yesterday at a press conference on the insecurity challenges of protecting people’s lives and property.
Also, some politicians yesterday  urged President Jonathan to take decisive actions on  Boko Haram and not treat the group with levity.
In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the politicians said  that the group was not faceless and its members were people within the Nigerian society.
The Lagos State Chairman of the National Action Council (NAC), Chief Gboyega Oloye said the action of the sect was to destabilise the system and take Nigeria back to  the military regime.
He alleged that the goal of sponsors of Boko Haram was to ensure that Jonathan did not succeed in transforming the country.
Mr. Godfrey Lemchi, Chairman, Lagos State chapter of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), advised the president not to handle the issue of Boko Haram with kid gloves.
“I expect the president to be bold in tackling this matter because members of the sect are not spirits but human beings that are not invisible,” he said.
Lemchi agreed with Oloye that sponsors of the sect wanted to ensure that it made the country ungovernable for the president.
Also speaking, Malam Yusuf Buba, National Chairman of the Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD), suggested that the only solution to the problem was amnesty for members of the sect.
“What was done in the Niger Delta that brought peace to the people and region should be applicable to the Boko Haram sect,” he said.
He, however, blamed youth’s restiveness on political leaders who were unable to create employment opportunities for youths.