It takes morbid callousness or an unrivalled level of ignorance or a combination of both to attempt the stunt by a faction of the troubled People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in its reaction to the release of 82 of the abducted Chibok girls.
A statement credited to the spokesperson for the Ahmed Makarfi PDP faction, Dayo Adeyeye, apparently has issues with the swapping of the some Boko Haram prisoners for the girls.
Assessed on the template of beer parlour debate, the PDP faction has some points going for it. It contended that it is against the international principle of never negotiating with terrorists, would embolden Boko Haram to extract more concessions from the Federal Government and would encourage the terrorists to carry out more abductions.
It is also worried that the released prisoners would be back in terrorists camps to possibly stage more attacks or worse still they would be free to roam the streets and recruit more fighters. Added to these, the faction of PDP somehow developed the empathy to articulate how the release of these 82 girls would affect the families whose members are still in captivity.
These arguments however fall flat once taken away from the realm of drinking joints where the average right thinking person is able to humanly and humanely look at issues without the benefit of confounding fumes. The situation at hand requires the clearest of thinking to appreciate what has happened with the benefit of foresight and hindsight and not just responding out of reflex.
That is what is expected of all rational Nigerians at this moment as only such appreciation would have made the greatest critics of the Nigerian Federal Government to commend the release of the girls without bothering about the cost at which their freedom was secured.
The Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) Group, which has been at the forefront of demanding action from the government on the girls’ release was ecstatic at the news that 82 girls have been freed. The group was elated six months ago when the first batch of 21 girls were released and judging from its reaction its appreciation was four-folds for the second batch of 82 girls.
Even the usually antagonistic Amnesty International (AI) which saw nothing good about the monumental efforts of our gallant troops to redeem the country from terrorists, had positive things to say about the release of the girls. Where the safety and freedom of the abducted girls is concerned, swapping ten terrorists in detention for one girl is justifiable as the country would have saved one person from a harsh fate by so doing.
That said, the claim of this factional PDP must be addressed so that it does not continue to have the misplaced impression that it can ride on a wave of populism to worm its way back into public acceptance on the wrong premise.
Unfortunately, the PDP was trying to create unnecessary fear over the tendency for terrorists’ to re-offend upon being freed, recidivism. The faction however failed to point out that terrorists that re-offend are most likely to get killed when they return to a life of crime. This is not counting the fact that those likely to succumb to recidivism constitute a fraction of those that regain freedom. Re-offending is also not limited to terrorists, other criminals re-offend too.
And now that the PDP has drawn our attention to it, another chance to this gang of politicians will see them re-offend by again looting the country and providing inept leadership.
Suddenly the PDP, which committed its years in power to creating the hydra-headed Boko Haram is now aware of international principles. It is now enlightened to the point of knowing that it is not globally acceptable to negotiate with terrorists.
The claim in this regard is ridiculous because it was the PDP, in the era of Alex Badeh as Chief of Defence Staff, that was busy declaring ceasefires each time it was supposed to strike a final blow against the terrorists. It was the PDP that employed the tired cliché of order from above to free the earliest Boko Haram suspects at a time when there were no civilian hostages to be freed.
It was the PDP that paid huge amounts to terrorists for failed ceasefires only for Boko Haram to use the funds to procure sophisticated weapons. Someone must therefore tell the PDP that this swap is not the same as the charade that went on in their own time.
It is exceedingly naïve to tout the concept of not negotiating with terrorists without recognizing the trade-offs. Countries that do not negotiate with terrorists tend to exterminate the captives with their captors. The PDP wants the government to pulverize the abducted girls with the Boko Haram captors! The girls were taken under PDP’s watch and they never thought to murder them at that time but they now want another government to have the blood of the innocent on its hands.
These desperadoes must ask themselves probing questions and answer sincerely. They should ask if the APC government has not demonstrated that governance is about the people no matter how mad they chose to be in a democracy? How many Nigerians initially held hostage by the terrorists from the PDP era have been freed today? The latter question has to do with deliberate omission by the PDP in its statement to recognize that there are other hostages that do not have the Chibok Girls’ celebrity status, who have been freed through government intervention.
As for the families that will be traumatized seeing other girls returned when theirs are still in captivity, the PDP faction should have seen this as another opportunity at great reflection at the damage they inflicted, not just on the grieving families but on the entire nation. Their years of misrule and kleptocracy was the catalyst for the poverty that became the precursor for the growth of extremism and subsequently terrorism. The faction should visit these families and apologize for everything it failed to do while in power and the one it did wrong.
The factional PDP disagreement with negotiating to secure the release of the abducted girl is noted but should be taken with a pinch of salt. One must however wonder if this stance would be the case had the girls languishing in Boko Haram captivity were the children of those in that faction. It is one thing to reject an option; in this case negotiating the girls’ freedom, it is another thing to come up with viable alternatives to what is being rejected.
Since negotiating or swapping Boko Haram prisoners is not acceptable, what other options is the PDP giving us? It has none. This is sad. Could he be so bereft of ideas to this extent?
By trying to blackmail the government to leave the Chibok Girls in Boko Haram’s camps the Makarfi PDP faction has proven it is desirous of continuing to terrorize Nigerians. It is the only incentive it could have for trying to keep the girls imprisoned. In the last part of its 16 years of misrule, the then President Goodluck Jonathan admitted that Boko Haram were part of his cabinet, which also means they are in his political party, the PDP. Now that the end game for the terror group is near, its political face is manifesting in the form of the Markafi PDP faction. It is the real terror group.
By Richard Murphy
Murphy is a security expert and contributed this piece from Cotbus, Germany.