This Day (Lagos)

5 November 2012

Nigeria: Boko Haram - Criticisms Trail Buhari's Nomination As Mediator

Photo: Vanguard
Bombing continues as citizens advocate for talks with Boko Haram

Pioneer National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Solomon Lar, and Founder, Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr. Frederick Fasehun, have kicked against the nomination by Boko Haram of former Head of State, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), as one of the eminent persons to facilitate discussion with the Federal Government.

Lar, who urged leaders of the sect to first reveal their identities before pressing for truce, wondered why Boko Haram should nominate Buhari along with Dr. Ali Monguno, and former Yobe State Governor, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim, to mediate in the crisis when they were not its members.

Besides the trio, the three other persons a self-acclaimed spokesman of the sect, Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulazeez, said the group would want as mediators as one of the conditions for dialogue with the Federal Government, were Ambassador Gaji Galtimari, Mrs. Aisha Alkali Wakil and her husband, Mr. Alkali Wakil.

Fasehun on his part, said Buhari was not the right person for government to involve in talks with the Islamic sect if there was a genuine desire to find a lasting solution to the intractable security crisis caused by Boko Haram's insurgency.

Lar and Fasehun spoke at the weekend at different occasions in Kaduna and Ile-Ife, Osun State, respectively.

"I disagree completely (to holding dialogue with Boko Haram) unless they disclose their identities, that Mr. X, Y, Z is Boko Haram. For them to name some people to be their representatives, who are they? They are faceless people, let them come out and reveal their identities," Lar said in an interview with journalists.

He added that it was not enough for the sect members to nominate some people to negotiate on their behalf and charged them to come out in the open and identify themselves rather than remain faceless.

He wondered whether Buhari, Monguno and others nominated by the sect members had agreed to represent them in the proposed dialogue with the Federal Government.

He said: "Has Gen Buhari agreed? Is Buhari their representative? Is Ali Monguno their representative? You see, I didn't want to mention names, but if they (Buhari and Monguno) said yes, they are their (Boko Haram) representatives.

"But have they agreed to represent them? Let them come out. During the Niger Delta militancy, some people came out and said they were the leaders of the militants.

"That was very reasonable and that was how the late President Musa Yar'Adua was able to tackle the problem of militancy in the Niger Delta. The Niger Delta militants were not faceless like Boko Haram.

"Why didn't Boko Haram follow the example of the militants by showing their faces?"

Lar also condemned last week's murder of Major. Gen. Mohammed Shuwa (rtd) in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, by unknown gunmen, suspected to be Boko Haram members, and urged the Federal Government to do everything possible to identify the culprits and bring them to justice.

He noted the role the late Shuwa played in keeping Nigeria one during the civil war, saying that the deceased was one of Nigeria's unsung heroes who was never talked about or recognised by various governments.

"He was a hero but nobody talks about him. Government upon government never did anything to bring him up and recognise his contributions to Nigeria. Nobody sang his heroism.

"It is unfortunate, the government must do everything to find out those behind this unfortunate incident and bring them to justice," Lar added.

According to him, President Goodluck Jonathan was doing his best in handling the security situation in the country, saying he was optimistic that "the question of Boko Haram will be over in a matter of days".

However, Fasehun warned Jonathan against agreeing to Boko Haram's terms to include Buhari in negotiations with the Islamic sect.

He told journalists in Ile-Ife, after a public lecture organised by the Ife Business School, in honour of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, that Buhari was not the right person to negotiate on behalf of Nigerians or the Federal Government if the government wants an end to terrorism.

Fasheun said while the decision by Boko Haram to negotiate with the Federal Government was a welcome development, the suggestion that Buhari should be a mediator would further aggravate insecurity in Nigeria.

He said Buhari would not represent the interest of the government and Nigerians on the committee as he had a grouse against Jonathan who defeated him in last year's presidential election.

"Buhari should not be part of the negotiators because he has a serious grouse against the present administration. His grouse was because he was not made the president of Nigeria.

"How can such a fellow represent the interest of the government and the good people of this country if he is part of those that will negotiate and hold dialogue with Boko Haram?" he asked.

He advised the Federal Government to set up a formidable team comprising responsible Nigerians to discuss with the sect if the government wants an end to terrorism and insecurity in the country, adding that the government should be civilised in its discussion with the sect members to ensure peace in the country.

He held the view that dialogue between government and the sect, if achieved, would bring about peace in the country.

Speaking on the political situation in Yoruba land, Fasehun suggested that a credible person be chosen as the leader of the race through a collegiate system, saying this would bring about progress in Yoruba land.

"The leadership of the Yoruba nation is not the best. We are wanting at the leadership level and that is why we are being marginalised left, right and centre.

"Leadership is very important in the life of any people or group. It is because Yoruba people cannot have one person as a leader that the powers that be broke Yoruba into pieces because they know that if we are one, it will be terrible for them," he said.

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