NEGOTIATING WITH BOKO HARAM
With over 20,000 lives wasted by the Boko haram sect, millions of dollars' worth of property destroyed, more than 500,000 people displaced from their homes, insecurity is unarguably the biggest headache facing the Nigerian government.
The trillions of naira wasted in reining in this murderous sect would have found better use in other critical sectors of the economy. Despite spending over 3 trillion in the insurgency war, Boko Haram continues to run rampage killing scores of innocent citizens with IED's.
The need for fresh ideas in the insurgency war has become more urgent with the renewed audacity of the terrorists since the successful transfer of power to the opposition party. Over 500 people are said to have been killed since May 29th. This is not just statistics; these are human lives that have been wasted.
The news of President Buhari's readiness to negotiate with the sect on a possible trade off for the #Chibokgirls was received with mixed feelings at home. With what is known back home as negotiation being the amnesty program that turned militants into overnight millionaires, it is not surprising that people are kicking against any form of negotiation that will see a group that has nearly brought the African giant to her kneels evading justice for their heinous crimes against humanity.
This will not be the first time the government will be exploring this kind of option. During the Jonathan administration, this same attempt ended up with officials embarking on a somewhat jamboree trip to the Saudi to discuss with Boko Haram leaders on a ceasefire deal, a phantom deal that its only result was the death of hundreds of people who were murdered because the military were deceived to lower their arms.
While many will prefer that military action should continue and that the gains made by the outgone government in the twilight of its dispensation be sustained, current realities has shown that military action alone cannot guarantee total victory against the sect. Some even want the government to adopt the “we don't negotiate with terrorists” stance of the US, forgetting that we do not have the strength of their armory or the swiftness of their intelligence gathering and that such grandstanding will continue to strain our already thinning resources.
No responsible father will abandon his daughters in the den of murderous abductors for this long when there are things he could do to negotiate their safe return. No right thinking government will obstinately stick to hostilities as the only option to seeking lasting peace and security for its citizens. The humongous resources already expended on this war and the collateral damage occasioned therewith makes a case for negotiation to be included in the strategy for ending this insurrection. What must be stressed however is that such negotiations must never compromise the freedom of citizens or the secularity of the Nation State.
In this regard, the present government must be wary of falling into the booby trap of the sect. While it is urgent and important to secure the safe return of our daughters, any negotiation that will include amnesty for the terrorists or a total exoneration of the heinous crimes they've committed against humanity will be a very bad idea. Such deal will make nonsense of our laws and set a bad precedence for how crimes are fought in our clime.
President Buhari should continue the military onslaught against the terrorists while exploring opportunities for a possible discussion with the sect. But the Nigerian state cannot negotiate with the terrorists from a position of weakness and cannot afford to make concessions that will legitimatize the evil called terrorism.
Written by Honest Offor.