What Northern Elders Told Jonathan About Boko Haram [Full Details]
Unongo revealed that the elders conveyed to the President that amnesty is the only way to resolve the Bokko Haram crisis, and that war cannot solve the problem, except dialogue.
“We made a lot of presentations and our position is that, our country is dear to us. And this country supersedes the ambition of anyone. The viability of it, the sustainability of it is critical to us. We have seen so much, we lived through a lot and we gained experiences along the line. And we felt that if a government was confronted with problems, and we watch the country drifting from bad to worst. And that at our ages most of us are above 70 very few of us are below 70, we felt, we were morally and even religiously obligated to offer suggestions that will aid the resolution of what was confronting and threatening the country to the authorities in charge with the responsibility of trying to put things right. In our anxiety and consistent with our policy of offering suggestions we offered Mr President our own views about the situation in Nigeria. We felt threatened that the security situation in Nigeria is getting out of hand.
“We felt the challenge, the challenge of a small Sect from northern Nigeria that translated that western education did us some harm. A small religious uprising began all the way from 2008 and kept on increasing.
“And we told Mr. President that we felt that people have bought into this phenomenon that they now come with a big name called Boko Haram and they seem to have forgotten the original people that started this Boko Haram. And we told him the truth, we said Mr. President we felt somebody wants to do this nation harm. People that don’t want us to stay together, people who don’t want stability in our country.
“We told him that those who wanted to steal and those who are benefiting from perpetuating the crisis may have bought in into the phenomenon of Boko Haram. So we submitted to him that Boko Haram has become a multifaceted phenomenon in Nigeria and that if he went after Boko Haram in a one line thing that he will miss it. We then made suggestions. We said he shouldn’t listen to the sentiment of the Nigeria typical political dialoguing when they are fighting for being more Nigeria than other people, telling him that this is a phenomenon of the northerner and when they come to the north they try to separate, that if you are a Christian you are not a northerner, middle belt and so on which are all rubbish.
“We said this problem cuts across the country, and from some of the arrests that were made we were able to make our case, that we discovered that it appears criminals have been brought in from all parts of this country. So he should study the insurgency and the insecurity in Nigeria and make it a priority and we offered suggestions on how he should go about it that include the amnesty.
He also faulted the president of the Christian association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor who is opposed to the proposed amnesty for Boko Haram members
He argued: “Did we not dialogue with criminals here in Nigeria? For instance, in the First World War, those people who caused war for the whole world and lost millions, didn’t we dialogue as human beings with criminals in Germany that eliminated almost 8 million Jews? How did the war end? Was it all about killing up all the Germans for the sins they committed?
“Why do Nigerians want Mr President to fail, lying to him that these are religious problem? I am a Christian and as a Christian, why is Mr Oritsejafor lying to the President that it is a war against Christians even when large numbers of Muslims are killed. This is a more complex phenomenon and they should leave this man alone. He is on the right track; it is not a religious war.”
Continuing, Unongo noted: “The Muslims in Kano, the Muslims in Borno, and the Muslims in Yobe all hate Boko Haram more than those opposed to the deal because Boko Haram has wreaked such havoc on their families – they have lost their wives, they have lost their monies, they have lost their trade, they have lost everything they have. How can they support Boko Haram? So the simplistic interpretation of what is happening in the far northern part of Nigeria is not acceptable.
“I am from the north; I come from Makurdi, Gboko in Tiv land. I am a northerner and they say northerners are killing those that are Christians. These are agents’ provocateurs; these are enemies of Nigeria; these are people pushing Jonathan to make a mistake. The problem of Boko Haram is a problem of terrorism.
“Niger delta militants were criminals yet we dialogue with them and we got results. When we sent soldiers to go and kill people in Odi and we killed them but they fought back and they eventually produced all kinds of militants equipped with proper arms. Did that action end the fighting in Niger Delta through killing all the people of Niger delta? If the Nigerian nation wanted to commit genocide, they would have killed everybody in Niger Delta, but would it have been the solution?
“It was Mr President unknown to many of us that was pivotal to the solution of solving the Niger delta problem. He went and talked to the people and convinced them. So what is wrong in talking to the people that come from other parts of Nigeria and give them a chance to change their heart?
“Why would religion come into this when the evidence on the ground is so emphatically convincing that these people who are opposed to dialogue and amnesty are the main enemies of Nigeria? Mr President has a serious problem of terrorism in the country because all the enemies of Nigeria have bought in into this problem. The people arrested by the police, are they only Muslims? There are some of them that are Christians also.
“You can’t end a war with a war which is the theory presented to Mr President by the president of the Christian association of Nigeria (CAN) because he doesn’t want Mr president to talk to the people who are the warring people. He wants soldiers to kill them the more. These are the people who tie themselves up to be blown up; do they care about their lives?
“They see innocent people in the church, in the mosque and with their children, in universities, in their homes, and they tie bombs around their bodies, when they go who do they kill first? They kill themselves first. They press their button and blow themselves. Do they care if you kill them? Can you solve the problem by killing them? How many would you kill? Those people who make the president feel you can solve the problem by killing them are mad.”
Source: Peoples Daily
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