Voice of America (Washington, DC)

Nigeria Government Seeks 'No Opposition Help' Over Boko Haram

Nigeria's main opposition Action Congress Party (APC) says President Goodluck Jonathan's government has yet to engage opposition parties in its effort to come up with solutions to help resolve the country's security crisis.

APC spokesman, Lai Mohammed denied accusations that the opposition groups are seeking to use the tragedy of the abduction of the school girls by violent Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, as a political tool to make the administration unpopular in the run up to next year's general election.

He says the APC repeatedly urged the government to dialogue with the militant group as part of a bid to resolve the security crisis, instead of using military force against the insurgents, which the party warned is unlikely to succeed.

"We have been telling government that it is wrong to look at the Boko Haram insurgency only as an insurgency that can be defeated by the military alone. We have always advocated for dialogue and negotiations," said Muhammed. "We have always told the government that the economic situation and hardship in the north-eastern states is a contributing factor to the insurgency, so that they should introduce a master [economic] plan."

Officials of the administration, however insist that the government has called for unity to fight the violence carried out by the Boko Haram militants.

Ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) supporters say the opposition groups are seeking political gains ahead of the elections next year by using the abduction of the school girls to discredit the government.

Muhammed disagreed, saying the government has yet to embrace opposition suggestions. He says the administration has not effectively deployed the military to solve the country's security crisis.

"We gave them 10 suggestions, so how can they come and say we are trying to seek cheap political advantage? No. But, we must at the same time know who has failed," said Muhammed. "The PDP has failed. Nigerian government which used to be so competent, we used to be invited to peacekeeping missions today, our army has been reduced to a sorry state."

Some analysts say the opposition parties have not supported the government or offered any meaningful suggestions that will help combat the Boko Haram violence.

Muhammed disagreed with that criticism.

"We are not in charge of the military apparatus if we are invited we will help. Have they invited us? We have not been approached, and yet we are the first even before this matter got to head that there should be a national summit of all stakeholders on security," said Muhammed.

"We made that appeal after the first Nyanya blast. Did we get any response from the federal government? What role have they assigned us that we have not done?" asked Muhammed. "Honestly speaking if the government thinks that because of this calamity we would spare them, they are mistaken. We would make very useful contribution, but we will not let Nigerians forget who has failed, and it is the PDP and President Jonathan."

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