Boko Haram! The evil sect purportedly released a video footage of some of the missing school girls, which was broadcast to the whole world on the 12th of May 2014. The leader of the Sect Ababakar Shekau appeared and claimed to have converted the non Muslim school girls to Muslims. The Girls all dressed in full Muslim dresses, were seen reciting some Islamic verses. Abubakar Shekau asked the federal government to release Boko Haram prisoners before they release our girls. Put differently, he was proposing a deal of swapping our girls for dangerous criminals.
I believe the federal government should reject this offer outrightly for many reasons.
First acceding to the request is a contradiction of the Federal Government’s Policy not to negotiate with terrorists. The federal government has always maintained, and rightly so, that it wouldn’t negotiate with terrorists. Therefore accepting to this dangerous offer would send a wrong signal and would be counter-productive.
Secondly acceding to this dangerous request from Boko Haram would put the lives of many Nigerians at risk. As history teaches, terrorists always present fresh requests once you grant the original one. If the Federal Government agrees to this, then all the terrorists require is to abduct another set of Nigerians and present another demand. This would now put the Government in a serious dilemma. When in 1999, some militants kidnapped some expatriate oil workers, the then federal government was advised not to pay ransom for the release of these hostages. But it was reported that the federal government then, under pressure from family members and some Countries, allegedly paid ransom to secure the release of the expatriates. Subsequently kidnapping became widespread in the Niger Delta and South East Region and escalated beyond the imagination of anyone. Kidnappings became commercialized as result of that “easy” approach adopted by the previous dispensation.
The current President should learn from the mistakes of his predecessors and avoid the “quick fix” route. It is better the Government adopts a comprehensive solution than looking for “short cuts” that would ultimately lead to more problems. One can imagine the level of pressures that may be mounted on the shoulders of the President because of the activities of this sect. However it is better to avoid any action capable of endangering more lives. Mr. President should explore other options to secure the release of these our girls without further delay.
Another danger inherent in this offer would be the flooding of our streets with criminals who should be under lock and key. If the Boko Haram Prisoners are released, how can we monitor them? Who can guarantee they wouldn’t strike again? These are People who have signed their death warrants, therefore they have little or no regard for the sanctity of human lives. It is therefore not in the interest of greater public safety to accept this offer from the forces of evil. It would definitely jeopardize the general security of lives of Nigerians, and also insult the gallantry of our security personnel some of whom takw extraordinary risks , while others actually paid the supreme sacrifice while trying to arrest these criminals in the first instance.
Also I have spotted several inconsistencies in Shekau and his purported video. In the first video footage he released, he threatened to sell the girls as slaves not minding their tender ages. Now he claims to have converted the girls to Islam, something many Muslims have denounced as un-Islamic. Most Muslims that have spoken have always maintained that conversion is not by compulsion. Therefore Shekau is a loner in his evil manipulations. Also a closer look at the video footage shows that some of the girls are in their 30s. Shekau is obviously playing a prank of cheap blackmail anchored on manipulation.
In conclusion, let me say that those political elites who thought they would use insecurity to blackmail Mr President out of office can now see that it has backfired on them. Those who threatened to make the country ungovernable for him ( Whatever that means) can now see that they have achieved the very opposite of what they intended. Now the reality is that the Country is in a state of war with terrorists, and we cannot change the Commander-in-Chief in the middle of the war. In fact it would be morally wrong for Mr. Jonathan to abandon ship halfway down the sail without achieving total victory against the terrorists. Those Elites who kept quiet for a long time and refused to condemn the atrocities of Boko Haram, hoping that insecurity would force Mr. President not to contest can begin to gnash their teeth in shame. If there is anything they have achieved, it is the fact that they have succeeded in pushing Mr. Jonathan to the wall where he cannot decline to contest. The prevailing opinion in Nigeria and the Diaspora is that Jonathan should hang on and fight this insurgency to the end. He has no other options now. The issue of whether Jonathan would declare to run or not is no more a question of IF, but a question of WHEN.
God bless Nigeria…
Edozie Okeiyi political analyst, wrote from the United Kingdom