The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has accused the federal government of wasting valuable time and resources on the meaningless fuel subsidy debate while neglecting the Boko Haram crisis that has continued to consume the lives
of innocent citizens.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Monday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, a day after dozens were killed in a seemingly coordinated attacks across three states,the party said if the government had spent half of the resources it had devoted to the fuel subsidy issue on the Boko Haram crisis, and had organized as many consultations with stakeholders on Boko Haram as it had done on fuel subsidy, the crisis would have been resolved by now and hundreds of precious lives saved.
”There is no point in mincing words: This government has got its priorities wrong and has acted in a manner that suggests total disregard for human lives.
Or how else does one explain a situation where citizens, including security agents, are being hacked down daily by the Boko Haram insurgents and all the government is doing is to waste time and resources on the phantom fuel subsidy issue?” ACN queried.
The party said, for the umpteenth time, that the only way out of the Boko Haram crisis is engagement, as it should by now be crystal clear to all advocates of force that no amount of force can crush the insurgency.
”The engagement must be preceded by a meeting of national stakeholders on security, which will harness the experience and wisdom of key people, including former heads of state, traditional and religious leaders, as well as past and present security and intelligence chiefs in seeking a lasting solution to the problem.
We have called for these measures on at least two occasions in the past and we hereby reiterate them, as the government’s approach of using force has failed woefully, while citizens continue to die,” it said.
ACN also said it is time for President Goodluck Jonathan to show leadership and emulate his predecessor, who showed rare courage by engaging the Niger Delta militants through the very successful amnesty programme, after all attempts to crush the militants failed.
”For now the federal government has got the diagnosis of the Boko Haram wrong, which means it is basing its solutions on a wrong premise.
Though some will have us believe otherwise, the Boko Haram crisis is a reaction to some perceived acts of injustice and corruption, which makes it a social and political crisis rather than an ethnic or religious one. Some even see it wrongly as a North-South-South agenda.
”It is also important to learn a lesson or two from the resolution of the militancy in the Niger Delta. While the Niger Delta militants complained of massive neglect of their communities, impoverishment of their people and destruction of their flora and fauna, the Boko Haram insurgents have raised the issues of injustice, poverty and corruption, and the extra-judicial killing of their leader and members.
All that a courageous leadership needs to do is to see which of the demands of the insurgents are reasonable and can be addressed to usher in peace, while ignoring the demands that are clearly unreasonable. After all, the amnesty did not address all the grievances of the Niger Delta insurgents, but has helped to reduce militancy to the barest minimum.
”Those who say no reasonable government will talk to terrorists are not being realistic. They have forgotten that the Boko Haram people are Nigerians first and foremost.
Secondly, nowhere in the world has force succeeded in crushing an insurgency.
Thirdly, even if force succeeds in the interim, achieving lasting peace will require dialogue. It is therefore important that we seek an alternative to the use of force in resolving the Boko Haram crisis,” the party said.
It also criticised those who are saying there is no one to act as a middleman in engaging the Boko Haram people, saying the government should use as conduits for peace those who have links to Boko Haram, instead of criminalising, arresting and killing them as it is presently doing.
ACN advised leaders to stop making inflammatory statements, and security chiefs to stop boasting about the exploits of their men fighting Boko Haram, adding that such statements can only attract reprisals.
The party also advised the government to worry less on the so-called international dimension to the Boko Haram crisis, saying all indications are that the insurgency is home-grown, and that once it is addressed, the so-called
international influence will be cut off.
Meanwhile, ACN has strongly condemned the senseless bomb attacks on Christmas day, in Madalla Town in Niger and Jos in Plateau state, which left many dead, saying no grievance in the world can be justified by the killing and maiming of innocent citizens.
”We urge those behind these killings to sheath their swords and take the path of dialogue to resolve whatever their grievances may be,” the party said.