Obasanjo awaits Jonathan’s nod for Boko Haram talks

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Jun 13th, 2014
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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is yet to get the government’s go-ahead to join the moves for securing the release of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.

The former President met last month with a delegation which included Kaduna lawyer-activist Shehu Sani to prepare the ground for his intention in the bid to get the girls, abducted on April 15 by Boko Haram, freed.

Obasanjo said he would only intervene if President Goodluck Jonathan gave his permission.

Yesterday, he said he had a way of reaching the leadership of the sect but could not go ahead yet.

Obasanjo, who spoke on the Hausa service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) monitored in Kaduna, also said many of the abducted girls might never return to their homes.

The former President said succeeding generations would continue to remember the 219 pupils still in custody of the insurgents, pointing out that only a few of the girls who would later get pregnant and find it difficult to cater for the babies in the forest, might be released.

He added that the abducted girls might have been separated by their abductors and kept in various places.

Obasanjo said: “I believe that some of them will never return. We will still be hearing about them many years from now. Some will give birth to children for the Boko Haram members, but if they cannot take care of them in the forest, they may release them”.

Sani, President of Civil Rights Congress (CRC) said the meeting with Obasanjo in Abeokuta that was attended by journalist Musa Salkida and some family members of the sect members, was to open new channel of dialogue for the girls’ release.

He said the Federal Government’s indecision to swap the girls or storm the insurgents’ hideout is unhelpful.

Sani urged Nigerians not to vilify Salkida, who negotiated the botched backdoor deal between the government and Boko Haram.

In a statement after the meeting he had said: “The meeting was solely aimed at exploring the possibility of opening a new channel for dialogue or negotiation with the sect members towards securing the release of the abducted Chibok girls held in captivity for over a month.

“The meeting appraised the reportedly collapsed back door deal that was later cancelled by the government. I wish to also confirm that the report of the intervention of Mr. Ahmed Salkida in negotiating the release of the Chibok girls is credible.

“I personally introduced Salkida to the Government and spoke about him in many of my previous interviews. He has tried his best in the past and of recent to help in resolving the insurgency through dialogue but was on all occasions frustrated by the government.

“Mr. Salkida should not be vilified but should be appreciated. Mr. Salkida’s attempt could have actually seen to the release of the abducted girls.

“The meeting in Abeokuta was aimed at repackaging and salvaging the dialogue option: It was generally agreed that the initiative cannot take off without the consent of the government”.

Sani insisted on negotiation with the insurgents in the nation’s interest.

He added: “It’s significant for Nigerians to note that negotiation is the only safer option to get the girls back home. The consequence of the use of force to rescue the girls is clear.

“The indecision whether to swap or to storm is also not helpful. Our children are our precious seeds for tomorrow’s harvest. We cannot celebrate democracy day with our children in chains.

“The ongoing insurgency is now part of our history and the challenge before us is not to allow it to be our fate. With national solidarity and resilient spirit we shall overcome.”


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