Boko Haram: The Dialogue Option


By Ben Nanaghan 

On 1 November, 2012 the dreaded Islamic fundamentalist organization known as boko haram offered the olive branch through its second-in-command Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulaziz in a telephone conference chat with journalists in Maiduguri, the  Borno State Capital.

The faceless criminal also revealed that boko haram was now ready to lay down arms and dialogue with the Federal Government. According to him, the boko haram number one commander and national leader, Imam Shekau has approved 5 faceless boko haram top shots to dialogue with the Federal Government.

The boko haramists did not stop there. If the Federal Government was excited and happy about  boko haram’s change of heart, this joy was short-lived as boko haram handed over to the Federal Government a very stringent list of conditions and a well considered list of ‘trusted’ Nigerians who boko haram would like to dialogue with on the federal bench. In other words, boko haram wants the Federal Government delegation to the conference of peace  to include only “trusted” Nigerians who are sympathetic to their cause including their Legal Advisers  Mrs Aisha Alkali Wakil and her husband.

The dialogue snare  by boko haram is a dangerous ploy to hoodwink both  Nigerians and the Presidency into believing that the war is  over. On the contrary boko haram  is presently restrategising for a more deadly phase of their operation which they aim to achieve by playing the angel to diplomatically counterforce the Federal Government into releasing  hundreds of their terrorism experts who are presently languishing in Federal Prisons. The plan is to up the ante to finally frighten Jonathan out of the 2015 Presidential race.

During the tenure of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2009, boko haram fooled the Federal Government into releasing all their trained jihadists who were then in various prisons. After the release of the boko haramists the Federal Governemnt was left high and dry while Mohammed Yusuf the boko haram leader then regrouped and reorganized his Islamist fundamentalist gang.

One thing the Federal Government must  realize is that boko haram has infiltrated the highest echelon of government. I therefore believe that any government official of northern origin who is trying to convince the Presidency of the sincerity of boko haram is a boko haramist himself. Even though I am on the side of dialogue, the Federal Government must be very circumspect and cautious in dealing with boko haram which I am convinced is only interested in the release of their hard core criminal jihadists in federal jailhouses.

A cursory glance at the boko haram conditionalities shows a thin veil of gross insincerity and undeniable deception.

Boko haram also compounded matters by choosing the venue of the would-be dialogue. And their venue of preference is Saudi Arabia which till date bears  acrimony against Nigeria for having a Christian President. To say that we have a frosty relationship with Saudi Arabia is a great understatement. The era of cold war between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia started immediately after the death of President Umaru Musa  Yar’Auda.

And so boko haram has chosen the venue also. And so in this matter boko haram is the judge and the jury. And if this conference holds as so planned the outcome will be a soliloquy and at best a monologue but never a dialogue.

Another precondition for dialogue is the rebuilding of all mosques destroyed by the Joint  Task Force (JTF) during their  operation to flush out these hideous jihadists from their hideouts. They also  charged the Federal Government to compensate them for all their colleagues who  have fallen during this mad jihadist crusade.

But unfortunately no mention was made of the thousands of Christians and  their churches that have been lost to the insanity of boko haram.

Boko haram also called for the immediate arrest and trial of the former governor and alleged founder of boko haram, Alhaji Modu Sheriff. The problem between the creator and the creatures is a matter of love gone sour.  The former governor can no longer afford to pump millions of dollars into their coffers and boko haram leadership is not too convinced that Alhaji Sheriff is not as financially “loaded” as he was when he was a governor.

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan himself has welcomed the dialogue plan only if it will bring peace to a battered boko haram wary nation. But my humble advice to the President is that this boko haram  peace initiative  will never bring peace to this country. It will rather strengthen boko haram with renewed  vigour from their jailed experts who will be released by the Federal Government. It will give them more gusto and vista to pursue their nefarious activities. It will give them more bounce and more bite.

The command and leadership  paradigm of boko haram is not as water tight as it was between 2001-2009 when boko haram founder Muhammed Yusuf  was in charge. Mohammed Yusuf was to boko haramist akin to a cult hero and figure. But today the boko haram command structure is splintered and broken.

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For instance it was members of boko haram that killed General Mamman Shuwa but boko haram’s 2nd – in-command denied this sacrilegious assassination. General Shuwa was one of those very brilliant soldiers who won the civil war for Nigeria. Other soldiers of fame and note during the civil war were colonel Sule Apollo and Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle.

These unsung war heroes never had the accolades they deserved. They never governed this country. Most of the military rulers of Nigeria were unheard of during the civil war but to day they are all trillionaires calling  the shots for boko haram.

General Shuwa must be given a dignified national burial. He was  never a Military President   but he was greater than them all-even in humility and in death.

Like I have always concluded in all my previous epistles on boko haram, I am highly convinced that boko haram took on a new political garb after the April 2011 Presidential Election which President Goodluck Jonathan won convincingly.

Before 2011, boko haram was a ragtag, bow and arrow army with daggers and locally made guns as their main arsenal.

But even before the President’s victory, the defeated northern Presidential candidates and their cohorts openly declared in the full  glare of  national television that they would make Nigeria ungovernable for President Goodluck Jonathan if he won. This gave impetus to boko haram

And before, during and after the April 2011 election a plethora or arms were shipped into this country to fight this Jihad. Most of these arms came from Islamic  countries including Iran and so today a boko haram that was wielding dane guns and cutlasses and bows and arrows has now transformed into one  the most  sophisticated terrorist groups in   modern times.

Today our boko haram now uses improvised explosive devices (IEDS), bazookas, AK47 rifles, bombs and also has an armoury that will make a national army green with envy.

Today’s boko haram are networked to link up with al-qaeda in the Islamic Magreb  region. All these connections were made by these politicians who are watching from the side line with big money.

Those who tout the tale that boko haram emanated  from social deprivations, and joblessness should know that there is more  abject poverty in the creeks of the Niger Delta than  anywhere in the world. There is poverty all over Nigeria. Poverty and infrastructural collapse is not the special preserve of the North. It is a malaise  which unfortunately spreads through the nooks and crannies of Nigeria.

However, in the event of dialogue, the FG must present  a very strong team and must insist on including boko haram sponsors on the boko haram delegation.

Going to dialogue with these faceless boko haram spirits without their political and military sponsors would be an exercise in futility.

Wishing the FG team all the luck in the world.

•Nanaghan wrote in from Lagos. E-mail: [email protected]

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