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Editorial: That Boko Haram Ceasefire And FG Dialogue

Nigerians woke up early this year, precisely 29th January, 2013 to hear of ceasefire allegedly declared by a faction of Boko Haram insurgent group led by one Sheikh Muhammed Abdulazeez Ibn Idris who claimed to be the 2nd Commander of the sect in charge of South and Northern Borno and acting under instructions of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Sect, Abubakar Shekau. According to Idris, Boko Haram has realized that several muslim women and children have been killed since the insurgence began in 2009,hence the need to end the senseless bloodletting. He also said his group were aware that criminals have infiltrated the ranks of the sect to perpetrate crime and wreak havoc on the citizenry.
The security agencies said they have taken the announcement with a pinch of salt and are trading cautiously. Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Sahaad said his advice to the Federal Government is to accept the ceasefire offer with caution, assuring that the security agencies will continue to protect lives and property of Nigerians. Sahaad said he instead advises the Federal Govt to beef up operations across the country.
The Federal Govt on its part has described the ceasefire declaration by Boko Haram as a welcome development, pointing out that the government is studying the situation. A Presidential Aide to Dr Goodluck Jonathan, Doyin Okupe said once the conditions for such ceasefire are right the Federal Govt will embrace it or even commence dialogue with the sect.
The Spokesman for the Joint Military Taskforce (JTF) in Maiduguri, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, while lauding the ceasefire proposal, said the military will not relent in its efforts in providing security for Nigerians.
Meanwhile, Nigerians have continued to express skeptism on the ceasefire pronouncement and possible dialogue with a group often described as faceless. They hinge their argument on the fact that previous attempts at dialoguing with the boko haram did not yield any positive result. Others say the dialogue option should be experimented, as there has never been alternative to peace in driving development in any given society.
Now that Boko Haram is out for peace through dialogue and has gone further to hold discussions with the Borno State Government, headed by governor Kashim Shettima himself, we suggest that the FG cashes on the option and find lasting solution to this lingering problem. Discussing with a state govt has automatically proved the fact that Boko Haram are not ghosts ,they can be reached and dialogued with.
Now that big stick formula has been used to a large extent, it is time for carrot/dollar diplomacy. Any govt that has not managed crises before and successfully too, cannot be said to be govt. Crisis management is a way of testing the capability of a govt and at the end ,such administration becomes stronger and better equipped.
In as much as nobody approved the action of Boko Haram or any militant group in the country, it is important to note insurgence or crises sometimes becomes inevitable in a society like ours.
We therefore advise that in the cause of negotiation with Boko Haram, the FG should be wise in all segments of the dialogue and if possible experts should be engaged to interpret all facets of the agreement. The FG should ensure that they will not give in so much to the sect that might warrant similar groups cropping up in future. There should be deliberate attempt to caution and educate Boko Haram that the FG’s acceptance to dialogue with them should not in anyway give the impression that they are strong to have challenged the authorities.
By and large we commend the Boko Haram for coming to their senses in realizing that violence does not do anybody any good and equally laud the FG for considering to dialogue with an outlawed sect for the overall interest of the country. We pray that God in his infinite mercy should crown the peace efforts of the two parties to his glory and at the end of the day, Nigeria will become a virile indivisible entity of our dream. ###

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