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.
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.?