By ADE ALADE, Abuja
The decision by former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to reject the proposed mediatory role for him by the islamist sect, Boko Haram, in the group’s dialogue plans with the federal government will have no effect on the commitment of both sides to the peace effort, presidency and security officials have declared.
Speaking to journalists after the Board of Trustees (BoT) meeting of the Congress for Progress Change (CPC) in Abuja on Wednesday, the former presidential standard-bearer of the party hinged his decision to reject any mediatory role in the proposed talks between government and the sect on his ignorance of the main intention of the group, stressing that he could not represent a faceless group. His words: “I think my party has done an excellent job on that. Unless some people don’t want to believe, I don’t know any member of Boko Haram.
Secondly, I don’t believe in their cause ordinarily. “If at a stage, I made mention of anything about the sect, it was when I said that there are three Boko Haram. One was led by Muhammadu Yusuf, whom we knew of in the military. He was a very fine soldier we all knew of but they arrested him and handed him over to the Police. He was a healthy and hearty young man, but they killed him. Again, his in-law was murdered, their houses were razed and the Borno State government compensated them. “All these, we criticised.
The second Boko Haram was a criminal who used to blow up banks and steal money and issue statements as Boko Haram. Then I said that the biggest Boko Haram was the Federal Government itself. This is because it has all the powers to stop those killings. This has paralysed activities in that part of the country. So, how can I represent the people I do not know? “I don’t believe in whatever they are seeking. I cannot work for either Boko Haram or government. I do not believe in what they are doing especially, the destruction of lives and property, and the government does not want to intervene to stop all that. With all the military and security, the Federal Government could not stop that.”
A top official of the presidency has however described Buhari’s decision not to get involved in the peace plan as an indication that “he is not only a bad leader but a selfish one who is not ready to make the crucial sacrifice the nation requires of statesmen at this critical time in the nation’s history.”
The official further accused Buhari of not being patriotic in this instance. “Let me emphasise that what he has done by turning down the offer to get involved in the peace plan is purely and simply a disservice to this nation and it should be condemned”, he added.
When Saturday Sun contacted the office of the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, who is coordinating the peace talks with the sect, his media aide, Kunle Karounwi, said he could not comment on Buhari’s decision but however stressed that “so much effort has been put in to achieve peace, enduring security and national stability to an extent that an individual’s action at this point cant be of any effect on the peace process or scuttle it.” One of the sect’s commanders, Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulaziz had in a telephone chat with journalists in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital over a week ago expressed the sect’s preparedness to cease fire and stop its campaign of violence on two conditions. He also claimed that the sect leader; Imam Shekau had appointed five members of the sect (himself inclusive) to handle the peace talks.
“Myself, Sheik Ibrahim Yusuf, Sheik Sani Kontagora, Abu Abbass and Mamman Nur have been appointed by our great brother and leader to handle the dialogue with the Federal Government,” he disclosed, adding that the sect would prefer the former military leader, Gen Muhammadu Buhari, ex-Yobe governor and now senator, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, first Nigerian minister of petroleum, octogenarian Shettima Ali Monguno, chairman of the presidential committee on insecurity in the northeast, Amb Gaji Gatimari and other prominent members of the Borno Emirate.