BOKO HARAM: OFFER & REJECTION OF AMNESTY
There is no reasonable or informed Nigeria who will not agree that we have a precarious security situation in the country. Faced with the seemingly overwhelming security problems, especially in the North, the presidency felt that the only option was to offer amnesty to Boko Haram, much to the chagrin of many citizens. Some of us were appalled with the offer of amnesty and even more annoyed when some pundits tried to draw an analogy with the amnesty granted to Niger Delta freedom fighters (so called militants).
So that there is no confusion, the gravamens of the complaints of the Niger-Delta militants were clearly discernable and articulable than that of Boko Haram. In addition, members of Niger-Delta were also identifiable. As an example, the militants, who were from the Niger-Delta, claimed that, their resources were being used to enrich the rest of the country while their own areas were impoverished. In other words, the members were from the specific area. The best articulation of Boko Haram's concern is eradication of western education in the north and maybe establishment of an Islamic state. The truth is that they are better positioned to come out, state their claims, and identify their members. It is an irony that it is western education that makes it possible to produce their weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Of course, we were not surprised that former Head of State and CPC Presidential Candidate, General Muhamadu Buhari, agreed for amnesty for Boko Haram members, although some time back he had declined the offer by the Presidency to negotiate on behalf of Boko Haram. Keep in mind that the general is not only infamous for his comment about “dogs and baboons,” but also for his earlier comment about making the country ungovernable if Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was elected as President over him. The northern leaders must step up to the plate and help solve this serious security problem.
It actually makes sense that Boko Haram rejected the amnesty offer based on their antecedents. They claim they have done nothing wrong and as such, there is nothing to forgive them for, which to them is what agreeing to amnesty will signify. In other words, they did nothing wrong by killing and maiming countless numbers of people with, machetes, bullets and bombs, In their warped conception, the victims in the Kano luxurious bus parks, UN bombing, churches and police stations were justifiably “eliminated”.
Anyway, the government is clearly running out of solutions to the problem. I previously wrote a piece titled “Solving Nigeria Security Problems, where I proffered five solutions to our security problems to witt: (1) we need a State police; (2) we must engage seriously in Poverty alleviation. (3) Education; (4) Eradication of Corruption; and (5) we must better equip our security forces
A historical look at the current security situation is not very encouraging. A Commissioner of Police was recently murdered in the Southeast and the real killers have not been found. Let us not forget about the Killers of our former Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige. Those of us in the media/public relations do not even want to remember the yet unsolved fatal letter bomb attack on Dele Giwa. If people of such “clout” could be killed without any prosecution of the perpetrators of the crimes, is there any hope for the average Nigerian? What about the brazen and dastardly attack on police stations and military/Joint Task Force (JTF) checkpoints by Boko Haram members? It is no wonder that the United States government, along with other countries, have issued varied degrees of travel advisory against travel to Nigeria by their nationals.
Those of us that have spent significant amount of time in the diaspora and are trying to encourage a reverse brain drain by our fellow professionals, are sometimes left without any ammunition (no pun intended).
In the aftermath of the Mubi Polytechnic attacks, the Senate advocated capital punishment for terrorists. Some of us were musing whether that is the solution to our security problems, especially since we already have laws for armed robbery and murder. Same argument counters those calling for death penalty for Kidnappers, which has been opposed by Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, CON, in the same vein. Our problem in Nigeria is not making more laws, but aggressively enforcing the existing laws, as deterrence to would-be criminals. There must be a political will, by the government, to do this and a collective will by the masses also.
It is beyond cavil that Boko Haram has sponsors in high echelon of government. Even the President admitted that much. With the advent of the rejection of the amnesty offer by Boko Haram, what then is the government's new strategy? We the common Nigerians are waiting for a visible answer.
Prof Alex O. Atawa-Akpodiete is an author, Computer Scientist, Educator, Consultant, lawyer, Political Analyst, Public affair analyst & Social commentator. He has a Doctorate degree in Jurisprudence from the US. He has lectured Law, Ethics and Security & Intelligence Studies at the University level here in Nigeria and US. He also writes for a state daily newspaper & national monthly journal. He currently divides his time between Nigeria and USA where he runs a PR and an international capacity-building firm ATAWA GROUP. Contact him on 08138391661 or [email protected] for his overseas contact. He is also on Facebook and Twitter.