Well, if the federal government could negotiate with the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), grant their members amnesty, and send so many overseas for training, then there will be nothing wrong to dialog with Boko Haram. This may sound odd, but its becoming a question of, if you can’t beat them, then negotiate with them. But, to achieve a balance, the federal government should also open negotiations with Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Odua People’s Congress (OPC) and other groups agitating for self determination. What is good for MEND should also be good for others. In case of MEND, over 20,000 were given amnesty, out of which about 969 of them are receiving training in USA, South Africa, Poland, Russia, Ghana, Malaysia etc. Boko Haram members definitely need such training, re-orientation, rehabilitation etc. Other Nigerians also need local and overseas trainings.
The writer advises that, Boko Haram or other groups agitating for self determination or any cause, should forget the use of violence. War, fighting, bombing or armed struggle has never achieved any thing except destruction. Every conflict(s) ends on the negotiating table. In Afghanistan , the United States and President Hamid Karzai’s government have opened up negotiation with the Taliban. No price will be too much to pay for peace in Nigeria . However, one important lesson can be learnt from our government. They are willing to listen, when the language of force has been applied. No wonder the MASSOB leader (Chief Ralph Uwazuruike) has threatened to abandon his non violent and non exodus movement. The question to ask our government is, what about non violent innocent Nigerians? When will the government remember them?
From all indications, it appears Boko Haram has popular support amongst the locals. Otherwise one wonders the reasons why Borno State law makers have asked the army to leave Maidugiri. In addition, former Governors of Borno and Gombe State (Senator Alli Modu Sheriff and Senator Danjuma Goje) and the present Governor of Bauchi State (Alhaji Isa Yuguda) have all publicly apologized to Boko Haram. Enjoying the empathy of the locals, means the security services will have tough work to do, which again points to negotiations as an option. In all situations, the priority should be the safety and security of innocent Nigerians. All hands must be on deck to protect them. May God bless Nigeria .
Chinedu Vincent Akuta.
An activist and Citizens Journalist, Based in UK .