From Molly Kilete, Abuja
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo, have given reasons as to why the Boko Haram terrorists group still remain strong and carrying out attacks on innocent Nigerians. He warned that the Boko Haram insurgency may get worse if the Federal government still refuses to dialogue with the group. General Obasanjo, has also said that the insecurity bedeviling the country may not end in the nearest future until the government addresses the root causes of agitations by the various separatist groups terrorizing the peace of the country with their deadly activities.
He said, on his part he has made several efforts after leaving office in 1999, to meet with the various heads of government to find a lasting solution to the menace of insecurity in the country but that such moves has not yielded positive results.
Gen Obasanjo, made the revelation at a lecture he delivered to members of Course 30, of the National Defence College(NDC), in Abuja.
In his presentation titled “Negotiation and Mediation in West African Cities: My Personal Experience”, Gen Obasanjo, while listing unemployment, underdevelopment, lack of basic infrastructures and amenities and perceived neglect of some regions in the country as some of the reasons for the insecurity, said as president, he took out time to meet with agitators and militant groups in the Niger Delta Region of the country, members of the Umuleri/Agukeri communities and the Ife/Modakeke groups among others to know the reasons for their incessant attacks and crisis in the region and communities.
He said that the meeting with militants from the Niger Delta, held at the state House, opened his eyes to the sufferings and plight of the people as they took time to narrate their ordeals. He said the militants told him that even though they have completed their university education they cannot find jobs in the various oil companies and industries located in the region.
He further stated that during the meeting with the militants, some of them looked him in the eyes after explaining their plight and asked him what he expected them to do in their predicament.
He said after the meeting where he also had lunch with the militants who apparently were eating with a sitting president for the first time, he took certain decisions that brought some level of Sanity to the region that involved the state governors, oil companies among other stakeholders.
In the case of boko haram terrorists, the bombing of the police force Headquarters in Abuja and the United Nations head office got him worried and made him decide to meet with the group to find the reason for their attack after discussing with the president at the time. He said that during his meeting with the boko haram group held in Maiduguri through the help of one Zanna, a lawyer, he was able to persuade the group to seize fire for 21, days which they agreed to, but that the agreement he reached with the group to meet with the federal government after he went on an eye surgery outside the country.
Continuing, General Obasanjo, said “The first time I personally took boko haram seriously, was when they attacked the police force Headquarters in Abuja. Well I thought that may be they have grouse with the police and then the second time was when they attacked the UN Headquarters building here in Abuja. And when that happened, I got a little bit worried. Again this time, I took it upon myself. I was not in my Executive position to do anything neither did anybody asked me to do it. But I took it upon myself. The day they attacked the UN building I was in Sierra-Leone and as soon as i heard the news, I got in touch with Nigeria and i came back from Sierra Leone that night and the following day I was here in Abuja to try and find out what really went wrong.
He said “all the security agencies I met, the IGP, DSS, the NSA, and even the president. And the impression was that boko was a band of rif-rafs who do not really require any attention. So I said to the President say look do you mind if I go for personal investigation and he said I trust you go, but if you like we will give you transportation like aircrafts, helicopters and I said please don’t because once I go in government helicopters I become a government agent. Let me go on my own. I got a private aircraft and a private helicopter from Lagos to Yola and from Yola the helicopter took me to Maiduguri and I met their families through an agent, Zaria, a lawyer in Maiduguri who is still there and we met with some members of their families some of whom I later learnt were boko haram themselves. And I wanted to know what is their objectives. They told me their objective was sharia and I told them sharia was not a problem in Nigeria because sharia is part of our constitution. and that of sharia is in our constitution it shouldn’t be a problem. And I asked what has happened and they said when I was in government I was doing my job and they were doing their own job that is what they said to me. And when I left government they were been chased, they were been hunted and all that. And I asked them if they were ready to talk, they said yes and said I could even meet their leaders and I said i don’t want to meet with their leaders but I just want to communicate their grievances to government. I then asked them if they want to meet with the government and they said yes but not in Africa. It will be outside Africa but I told them this is an African problem and it should be resolved on African soil that if they don’t want to meet in Nigeria that will be understandable. And we talked on that day and settled for two places in Africa where they could meet with the government and talk and they agreed. And immediately after that, I got in touch with the governor of Borno state and he promised to build the houses destroyed by the security agencies on the ground that I got in touch with Abuja so he does not get to be labeled as a Boko haram member. I came to Abuja and i reported and the feeling in Abuja was that they don’t want to deal with a bunch of rif-rafs. So i left Abuja for an operation on my two eyes and I came back after Eighteen days and nothing had happened and they were asking me when I came back they have not heard anything and I told that I made it clear to you that I have no Executive powers that I will report to the President and I have reported and if nothing has happened, that is the best i could do. And they said to me government will hear from us within 72 hours. And in fairness to them, they maintained cease fire for 18 days and within that 72 hours they broke that cease fire and that crashed fire remains broken till today and that mediation was not successful as it should have been.” The former president said”.
Gen Obasanjo, said mediating among terrorists groups, agitators among other aggrieved groups was a necessity for the peace, security and development of any nation. He therefore called on the participants as future strategic leaders to learn to be neutral when mediating among rival groups so as not to be seen to be taking sides with a particular side.
Sun News Online Team
Your email address will not be published.
document.getElementById( “ak_js_1” ).setAttribute( “value”, ( new Date() ).getTime() );
From Tony Osauzo, Benin Edo State Commissioner of Police Abutu Yaro has ordered a thorough investigation into…