Nigeria: Boko Haram peace deal and its implications

By IndepthAfrica
In Article
Nov 12th, 2012

by Taiwo Adisa, Nigeria Tribune
Group Politics Editor, Taiwo Adisa, analyses the recent offer by the Islamic sect, Boko Haram, to dialogue with the Federal Government and its implications.

ON Thursday November 1, the nation was treated to some sort of good news by the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram, when at a teleconference in Maiduguri, Borno state, the sect announced terms of ceasefire.

The news item was obviously a relief for millions of Nigerians who had lived in awe at the activities of the sect since things turned bloody in 2009.

In announcing the ceasefire offer, the sect named some eminent Nigerians who are to lead its dialogue with the Federal Government. Those named included former Head of State General Mohammadu Buhari, former governor of Gombe State, Senator Bukkar Abba Ibrahim, Dr. Ali Mongunu, Ambassador Gaji Galtimari, Mrs. Aisah Alkali Wakil and her husband Mr. Alkali Wakil. According to the sect, the above-mentioned would join  its leaders to seal the deal with the government.

Not a few Nigerians praised the resolve of the sect to seek peace with the government especially coming on the heels of several commitments given by the Jonathan administration to enter into dialogue with the sect.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Bello Tambuwal was one of the top Nigerians who hailed the decision by Boko Haram to seek peace.  The President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, who had severally called for peace between the government and the sect and had at one time, offered that the Senate could mediate at a dialogue between the government and the sect, also saw the development as a welcomed idea.

For a government that has consistently espoused its commitment to seeking peace, there should be no hindrance towards dialogue, especially as President Goodluck Jonathan himself had described the challenge posed by the sect as a potent one. The president, who spoke during his visit to Jigawa State last week, said that the nation was facing a critical security challenge which is perhaps, more complex than the situation during the civil war.

altDavid Mark, and Aminu Tambuwal

News from the government circles indicated that the administration had welcomed the quest for peace by Boko Haram. It was, however, learnt that the government immediately set up a review team to analyse the peace terms as sketched out by Boko Haram. While the government at the centre was being optimistic of a positive report from the tact team, checks by the media have however continued to uncover some dangerous signals.

First was the report indicating that some of the nominated members had stated that they were not contacted before the announcement. Again, it was learnt that the government team had uncovered some huddles staked against some of the nominated mediators.

According to reports, one of the issues raised by the government team was that one of the mediators had taken contrary position against the government-funded Joint Task Force (JTF), while another was said to have a son fighting alongside the Al-Qaeda in Islamic Magreb (AQIM) in Mali. Another member was said to have only recently been forgiven by the sect after an accusation of financial impropriety.

While such reports were still taken with a pinch of salt by many with the belief that the government and the sect would find a way through, the announcement by General Buhari last week appeared a huge stake. Buhari, while speaking at the Board of Trustees meeting of his party, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) said he could not mediate for the sect.

The General said: “How can I represent people I do not know, that I do not believe in whatever their cause is? How can I work for a government that has failed to do the most important thing of protecting lives and property with all the military, with all the resources available? How do I work for them?”

The Buhari submission has certainly placed a huge huddle before the search for peace between the government and Boko Haram. The question on the lips of many is how will the centre hold between the sect and the government? How and when will Nigerians know peace from the activities of the sect?

The answers to these and many other questions bordering the mind on the peace would lie in the adoption of multifaceted and internationally acclaimed standards of handing internal insurgency. Just as it has been said in many quarters, it has to be a combination of the carrot and stick. It is obvious gun duels between  JTF and the sect cannot end the logjam. The government perhaps needs to be tenacious in finding solutions and clearing off the tracks the ancillary issues that create room for violence to fester in the minds of youths, whether in the name of Boko Haram or others.

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