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An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind

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By Denrele Animasaun

“If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” — Desmond Tutu.

A quick  disclaimer: I  am a  Muslim  and  no,  I  am not  a  terrorist and I  do not have, never will have or harbour  terrorist  tendency  and I wholeheartedly  condemn  any act of violence, killing and segregation in  the  name  of Islam. Good, so that we are clear, very clear from the word go. The Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu, put  it so well that Boko Haram “does not represent Islam and  that it is  not a  Muslim organisation.”

Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Muhammed Saad Abubakar III is empathetically optimistic that amnesty for the Boko Haram members is possible despite the recent rejection to the move by the federal government.

And it seemed that the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan also would prefer that that Nigeria, works towards a resolution rather than through the path of disintegration. He said that Nigeria has what it takes to ride the wave but only with proper leadership,transparency and sincerity.

On the proposed amnesty for Boko Haram, the Cardinal urged the government to bring all the stakeholders to the roundtable since the offer was a “healthy” development.

I  agree, the  will  has  got to  be there, we collectively have  got a  lot  to  lose. Who  in their  right  mind  is  going  to take  the fall out if  we fail  as a  nation  to  resolve this. Everyone  will be  affected and  no  one  is going to  be  unscathed should  there  be all  out  violence. No, we cannot have a two-nation state, nor  is Nigeria going  to  have an Islamic protectorate state. By all means, let there  be  a dialogue but one that is forward looking and in the  best  interest  of  all Nigerians.

President Goodluck Jonathan and the 'ghosts'
President Goodluck Jonathan and the ‘ghosts’

Definitely the threat by the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, that they will commence bombing of mosques and killing of Muslim clerics as from May 31 over the terror campaign and killing of Christians by the Islamic sect, Boko Haram, adds another dimension to what is already an intolerable situation.

So what is the alternative? Apparently not those  who are threatening to  take  up  arms  and retaliate on what they see as one religion against the  other and  one tribe against  the  other. I  wish  it  were  that  simple  and  it  is  not. The seed of unrest has been brewing for some time, corruption, poverty and marginalisation has just help fuelled the fire.

So when I heard that the government was going to offer the group amnesty, my first reaction was “NO!” I mean when  they decimated a whole  community and it  seemed that they were able  to  kill, maim and terrorise  at  will, the  government obviously  did not  get  a handle  on the  horrors.

Those who are that directly involved have lent their support and appealed to Boko Haram  to  seize the opportunity to  take advantage of the proposed Federal Government amnesty programme and drop their arms. One of the widows from the Borno massacre, Malama Falmata Ibrahim, said: “Women have suffered most in the ongoing Boko Haram crisis; we have lost our husbands, parents, children and even fiancés. We are appealing to the sect to, please, take advantage of the planned amnesty and initiate talks with the government.”

As it is, in a statement by Sheikh Muhammad Abdul’aziz,from Boko  Haram , they  have already  been in dialogue and consultation with the Borno State Government and a delegation of the Northern State Governors’ Forum (NSGF). It  is  a  good  development  and perhaps, we  can  see  the  end  to this tragic chapter in Nigeria’s history.

Our young people do not have a stake in their future, nor has majority of Nigerians. What they have been lured into has been fractions, and made to fight for nothing. We have fed them on greed, corruption, mob mentality, ignorance, intolerance, violence and aggression.

This  fight is not theirs, their generation had no choice, but  we  have embroiled them in it ,we  have bequeathed  the  young nothing  but  trouble, unrest, insecurity, inadequate  education, no substantial future, use  them to  spread fear, terrorisation, intimidation  and miseries. And  the   government  does  not  seem to address the core  of the  problem so if the  call  for a  dialogue is real, by  all  means both party should take it and make every effort  to create  a  lasting change.

Now, the talking  has  to  begin, there was  the allusion  that the  government has indicated that in order for  the dialogue to  commence the  group  have  got to  come out  of  the shadows. All  the  posturing  need  to  stop and let  the  talk  begin on the  proviso that  there should  be a cessation  of  violence  . Being willing to talk is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength. We have to  get  it  right  or else we  would  have to  defend  our  decision  to  sell off  the  birthright.

Bombing in Boston
Two bombs stuck by the finish line at the Boston Marathon this week and it turned what should have been a sporting event into a bloody scene. It left three dead and over 170 injured. What was clear to everyone was that in spite of the tragedy, the emergency units swung into action, they ferried the injured to the casualty to wait ambulances.

Even the runners made their way to the hospital to donate blood because they know that the hospital would need it.

The U.S. President Barack Obama was very proficient  and effective and  within hours  of  the bombing, he spoke  to  the  nation, he  showed that he had  control of the situation and  he  promises to restore a sense of order and safety to a shaken nation. One of the reassurances anyone in the country needed to hear, he said:“We will find out who did this; we’ll find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.” You could not have wished for a strong, decisive leader at the helm. Can our President assure us that our lives are worthy to be protected just like those in the U.S.?

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