BY EMMANUEL AZIKEN, POLITICAL EDITOR & TONY EDIKE
Mixed reactions ranging from commendation to criticism, yesterday, trailed Sunday’s joint declaration of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida on the state of insecurity in the country.
While regional groups, including the Arewa Consultative Forum and Afenifere welcomed the intervention of the two elderstatesmen, the intervention received thumbs down from Ohanaeze which flayed the duo for failing to take heed during their separate stewardships of the country.
The Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, in its reaction dismissed the intervention as nothing new even as it affirmed that its national leader, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, himself a former Head of State, would not team up with the former rulers in their campaign.
The CPC spokesman, Engr. Rotimi Fashekin told Vanguard yesterday that Buhari had already categorized the Boko Haram insurgency as a variant of three forms with the political variant, allegedly embedded within the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Former President Obasanjo and former military President Ibrahim Babangida had in an unprecedented joint statement on Sunday appealed for peace in the country and suggested a strategic engagement with community stakeholders towards resolving the crisis.
Dialogue is the answer — ACF
Welcoming the joint plea of the former rulers, the ACF spokesman, Anthony Sani said: “What we have said is that there is no where in the world where force has ever worked on terrorism. We gave examples of Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and we have given example of Somalia and we came back home and said Yar`Adua used force in 2009.
“It was against that experience that we said let us try talking to them and we have been very consistent on that. We don’t want to give it a northern or religious colouration.
We support their idea — Afenifere
Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoronti while welcoming the intervention said: “It is a bit late as we had expected it before now. We were all waiting for that because they had to speak. I had once said the leaders who were supposed to speak have not done so because the Boko Haram is a menace and we cannot just look on and watch. I am sure that people will respect their views and halt these dastardly things.”
They are hypocritical — Ohanaeze
Ohanaeze Ndigbo on its part described the effort of the two former leaders as largely hypocritical, saying that the dialogue they are canvassing was never allowed during their respective tenures.
Engr. Ralph Ndigwe, National Publicity Secretary of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation told Vanguard: “There is nothing special about Obasanjo and Babangida calling for national dialogue or constructive engagement.
“When Obasanjo was in government for eight years, people were clamouring for national conference. Odi people reacted, they went and finished the whole village, ransacked every where and killed everybody because they killed one soldier. Today, he is out of government and talking about dialogue. Babangida did the same thing.
“Babangida and Obasanjo are senior members of the Council of States let them go to the Council of State and ask the council to call for dialogue; they don’t have to continue to deceive us through all these paper talks”.
The CPC also demurred, saying that there was nothing new in the joint statement from the two former leaders.
It said: “These people have not said anything new, except we want to be economical with the truth. Quite a number of people have said it in the past ”
Insisting that the situation demands a political solution, he said the CPC national leader would not join the refrain of the two men, saying that Buhari was a marked man by his critics who would twist anything he says to suit their political tunes.
“The unfortunate thing is that there are many people who are waiting to hear what Gen. Buhari says and use it for cheap political points and that is why the man has often refrained from making statements because he knows that we are not dealing with sincere people but we are dealing with very dishonest people, the party said.”
“Buhari is not like one of the normal Nigerian people that are ready to lie through their teeth. Buhari has never believed that getting political power is a do-or-die affair. He behaves in true service to the Nigerian people.”
Affirming that Buhari would not join the chorus of the two former leaders, he said:
“You don’t need to expect a statement from him because he has said Boko Haram is in three parts, Boko Haram is in three variants and one of the variants is the political variant which the Jonathan government represents.
He also said there is the original Boko Haram formed by Yusuf and that original Boko Haram is disgruntled and is seeking its pound of flesh from the Nigerian state for killing its leader extra-judicially and then you have the criminal Boko Haram that is involved in all sorts of criminal activities.”