Negotiating For The Sake Of Chibok Girls | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Negotiating For The Sake Of Chibok Girls

Posted: Sep 20, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By  Temidayo Akinsuyi LAGOS

The statement by President Muhammadu Buhari made during his official visit to France that his government has kicked off negotiations with Islamist fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram to secure the release of over 200 school girls abducted by the Sect from their school in Chibok Community, Borno State over a year ago has generated mixed feelings from  Nigerians. This according to political observers might not be unconnected with the resolve of the president to exterminate the sect from the Nigerian soil, especially the mandate given by him to the newly appointed Service Chiefs to wipe them out in three months.



While  Nigerians are still considering the feasibility of the three months mandate,  the president while speaking with members of the Nigerian community in France under the auspices of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO stated that the global attention and sympathy the ugly incident has attracted informed the negotiation. He however disclosed that the government was making frantic effort to determine the genuine leaders of the group.

The president  also vowed not to release the developer of the Sect’s IED’s which according to him was a condition advanced by the Group of releasing the girls. According to him  “The issue of Chibok girls has occupied our minds and because of the international attention it drew and the sympathy throughout the country and the world, the government is negotiating with some of the Boko Haram leadership. It is a very sensitive development in the sense that first we have to establish, are they genuine leaders of the Boko Haram. That is number one. Number two, what are their terms, the first impression we had was not very encouraging”.

“They wanted us to release one of their leaders who is a strategic person in developing and making Improvised IEDs that is causing a lot of havoc in the country by blowing people in Churches, Mosque, market places, motor parks and other places. But is very important that if we are going to talk to anybody, we have to know how much he is worth.

Speaking further,  he said “Let them bring all the girls and then, we will be prepared to negotiate, I will allow them to come back to Nigeria or to be absolved in the community. We have to be very careful, the concern we have for the Chibok girls, one only imagine if they got a daughter there between 14 and 18 and for more than one and a half year, a lot of the parents who have died would rather see the graves of their daughters rather the condition they imagine they are in.”

“This has drawn a lot of sympathy though out the world, that is why this government is getting very hard in negotiating and getting the balance of those who are alive.”

The president’s statement may not come as a surprise to many Nigerians. Shortly after his inauguration, Special Adviser to the President On Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, announced that its doors are open to negotiate with the Boko Haram insurgents to find a lasting solution to the security crisis in the nation if the sect is willing to do so.

According to Adesina, who spoke during an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC),  “If they (Boko Haram) are willing, why not? You know, attempts have been made for negotiations in the past and they didn’t work. Every reasonable person would want to see the end to this insurgency. So, if they are willing, why not? You can’t rule that out.”

Adesina’s statement generated  controversy amongst  Nigerians who felt the talk of negotiation  is an indication of weakness on the part of the federal government and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), especially given the campaign promises of the party on the need for change, a cardinal point of which is to ‘effectively deal with’ or crush the Boko Haram sect.  According to them, Nigeria has travelled on this journey without a fruitful result before and any talk of negotiation will only amount to wandering in the wilderness without a clear picture of when the country will get to the Promised Land in winning the war against Boko Haram.

Realising the uproar the statement has caused, the Presidency issued another statement where it said while the federal government will not shy away from any negotiation initiated by the Boko Haram sect, it will be from a point of strength and not weakness.

In the statement, “Amplification of comments on negotiations with Boko Haram,” Adesina pointed out that President Buhari, who has won such insurgency before (Maitatsine sect), is now poised to win the fight against Boko Haram.  He however added that there is nothing wrong in negotiating saying the United States also negotiated with the Talibans in Afghanistan at some point in time.

According to the statement, “Most wars, however furious or vicious, often end on the negotiation table. So, if Boko Haram opts for negotiation, the government will not be averse to it. Government will, however, not be negotiating from a position of weakness, but that of strength”.

The machinery put in place, and which will be set in motion soon, can only devastate and decapitate insurgency. It is multinational in nature, and relief is on the way for Nigeria and her neighbours. President Muhammadu Buhari is resolute. He has battled and won insurgency before; he is poised to win again. It is a promise he made to Nigerians, and he is a promise keeper. But I say again, if the insurgents want to negotiate, no decent government will be averse to such. Didn’t the Taliban and Americans also negotiate in Afghanistan?”

However, speaking on the latest admission by the presidency that it is already in negotiation with the sect, Senator representing Kaduna  Central Senatorial District, Shehu Sani described the move as a welcome development , adding that dialogue with the Boko Haram group was necessary to bring about permanent end to insurgency in the country.

The senator, who spoke in Kaduna said  that the Federal Government’s interest in negotiation with the group was a welcome development adding that the federal government must be ready to make concession  by releasing  some insurgents in exchange for the abducted girls and others in captivity.

He  advised the government to ensure that the negotiating team was made up of people capable of bringing the insurgents to the negotiating table.

“We need credible personalities who have some level of recognition or respect with the insurgents and a second team to oversee the terms of agreement to their full implementation. These are very much necessary to achieve success and put an end to insurgency.

“But we must make it very clear that we will not in anyway surrender our sovereignty to any terror group. We will not concede any territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to any insurgent group, and we will not in any way jettison our secular principles as a democratic state.

“If these caveats are clear then we are all out for negotiations,” he said.

The senator said that dialogue and what he described as the ‘peoples’ war’ were effective strategies needed to successfully win the war against insurgency. He explained that negotiation was needed mainly to free the Chibok girls and other persons kidnapped by the insurgents and also achieve a cease fire to give room for further dialogue.

Sani, however, said that both sides must come to the table with an open mind and be ready to make concession. According to him, efforts at negotiation in the past failed because the previous administration was not ready to make concessions.

“Negotiations require the government to be ready to make concessions by releasing some of the insurgents in return for the Chibok girls and other persons kept in captivity. The last administration was not ready to release some of the insurgents in its custody in exchange for the Chibok girls.

“We even reached a point of exchange when at the last point the government changed its mind based on security report received from security agencies. What I am saying is, you cannot achieve anything when negotiating if you are not ready to make concession. We should work on that to at least get the Chibok girls out of harm’s way and out of danger,” he advised.