By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Abdulwahab Abdulah and Gbenga Oke
LAGOS—Mixed reactions yesterday trailed the recommendation of amnesty for members of the Boko Haram Islamic group by the Federal Government panel on insecurity in the Northeast.
Among those who responded to the recommendation of the presidential committee on insecurity for amnesty to members of the Boko Haram group were Afenifere stalwart Chief Supo Shonibare, Leader of Odua Peoples Congress, OPC, Chief Fredrick Fasheun; Lagos lawyer Mr. Tayo Oyetibo SAN, Emeka Ngige, SAN and another lawyer Dr. Lakin Akintola.
Expressing reservation over the recommendation, Shonibare told Vanguard yesterday, “I do not know what informed such decision and I do not know the specific conditions made by Boko Haram that will make the Federal Government implement such amnesty.
For the benefit of doubt, I do not believe amnesty should be extended to those people that have committed criminal acts because giving amnesty to such people takes this country to a state of anarchy.”
Fasheun on his part said: “There are so many questions to ask. On what grounds is Federal Government granting the amnesty? The federal government should be able to tell us how many people that will be granted amnesty and how do you prevent the muscle-flexing of groups like Boko Haram in the future, if people can cause damage and flex their muscle against the FG and the FG is calling them to take money, nothing stops other groups from flexing muscles and throwing one or two bombs.”
Lawyers and religious leaders on the other hand yesterday said the outcome of the government’s negotiation with the members of the Boko Haram should be of primary concern.
Ngige, in his reaction to the committee report said: “There is nothing bad in negotiating with them, but the government must ensure it has the authority, not like the one embarked upon by Obasanjo, who started a negotiation which later caused the death of one of the supposed negotiators. If the negotiation will follow the same step, then there is no need to negotiate, it should continue with its intelligence work to unravel those behind the group and dislodge them.
“The major thing is for government to determine who are their sponsors, because it has reached an international dimension now. The government should know who is sponsoring them. For somebody to have agreed to suicide bombing, then he must have been rewarded. That is what government should do before negotiation. To me government has been in negotiation with wrong groups and the attacks still continued. Already, Yuguda has said there are two Boko Haram groups, so which one is government negotiating with? I also want to suggest that government should review our security system.”
Lagos lawyer Oyetibo, SAN, said: “It is a welcome development. To me it is not how peace is achieved that matters, but the peace in the environment itself. If you look at it, nobody cared to know how law and order was restored in the Niger Delta, but the peace.”
Meanwhile, the ACN yesterday said the President did not need to wear the apparel of a dictator to govern well.
In a statement issued in Lagos by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the comments credited to the President portrayed him as being totally oblivious of what his compatriots want or being out of tune with the situation in the country.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Mr. President, Nigerians are yearning for good and purposeful governance. They want their leader to hearken to their yearnings by addressing, decisively, issues of security, against the background of rising violent crimes, including kidnapping and armed robbery, and deadly bombings by Boko Haram.”
“They want their leader to act urgently in taking measures that will reverse the decay in infrastructure, especially roads; uplift the economy and raise the living standards of the people. Mr. President, it does not take a lion, dictator, or a pharaoh to do this,” it said.
The party said the President must resist pressures from his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to clamp down on the opposition or thwart the Constitution just to achieve set objectives which is far from being assertive.
“A President who vacillates when urgent actions are required is not decisive; and a President who carries on as if all is well when citizens are being daily tormented by the scarcity of kerosene, or who is ready to add to their burden by signing on to the removal of a nebulous petroleum subsidy is not responsive,” the ACN said.
The party also expressed shock at the statement credited to the President, in which he insinuated that he is not appreciated at home when he is being praised by foreign leaders, especially President Barack Obama of the US.
“We sincerely hope that Mr. President was misquoted on this issue. When did cheeky praises from foreign leaders become the yardstick for measuring the success of a leader”, it asked.
‘’The President of Africa’s most populous nation and the largest black nation on earth should not be seen to be pandering to anyone. By that statement, President Jonathan has confirmed speculations that he is more interested in what foreign leaders think of him than the opinion of Nigerians who voted for him.
The party thus advised the President to be more reflective and circumspect when making comments, especially during the kind of opportunity given to him last Sunday at the Church to reach out to his countrymen and women.
‘’Leaders are judged as much by what they do as by what they say. That’s why they must eschew banality and superficiality when they talk,’’ the party said.