Leadership (Abuja)

18 April 2012

Nigeria: Boko Haram - No Alternative to Dialogue - Bishop Idowu-Fearon

After taking a critical look at the current insecurity situation occasioned by the activities of Boko Haram in the country, a renowned clergyman, the Anglican bishop of Kaduna Diocese, Josiah Idowu-Fearon, yesterday told President Jonathan to expect more destruction and the worst stage of restlessness should he refuse to dialogue with the dreaded sect members.

He said, "It is unfortunate that some ill-informed religious leaders are advising government against dialogue. I believe it is wrong. It would lead to destruction and the worst stage of restlessness. Dialogue means, listen to me and I listen to you. Dialogue does not mean that you leave your position and take my position. The ultimate aim of dialogue is understanding and government must call these people to a dialogue with a view of putting an end to these insurgencies."

Bishop Fearon who also expressed sadness over President Jonathan's inability to implement Sheik Ahmed Lemu's post-presidential panel of inquiry one year after, said, "by now, government should have don't something to those indicted by the Lemu panel; the people indicted are still moving around without being taken to any law court."

Fearon, a member of the Sheik Lemu Committee, added: "How could that serve as deterrent to other troublemakers? One year later, the white paper is not out. It is not good and it would stop the reoccurring of crises in Nigeria because those involved and have been indicted have not been brought to justice."

In an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP, Bishop Fearon added: "The president is the father of all and, as a father, you can chastise any child for not behaving well with the aim of bringing that child back to the family. And that is the position I believe the present government should adopt vis-à-vis the so-called Boko Haram.

"Government threatening and Boko Haram threatening are not acceptable to the people.

It is in the interest of this government and the majority Nigerians for the government to bring these erring children and say, come let us talk.

"My reasons are that the so-called Boko Haram is not normative Islam. I speak as a Nigerian and someone who has Muslims as friends and a student of Islam.

"Boko Haram is not Islam as the way it is practised by the majority of Muslims; therefore, it is in the interest of Nigeria and the international community for the government to call them to dialogue.

"It is incumbent on this government to teach Nigerians how to live with our differences. Call them, pamper them and provide them with something for them to feel secured. Nobody is happy with this insecurity.

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