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Boko Haram: Jonathan in a rethink on use of discretional powers

President should adopt discretional initiatives, multilateral  methods to fight Boko Haram—CLO

THE 15th Democracy Day anniversary was last week marked amidst overarching gathering gloom across the country. This was clearly the manifestation of the intractable Boko Haram terrorism ravaging the country, which became exacerbated by the  abduction of over 200 girls at the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, since April 14. Virtually every stakeholder in the Nigerian project was of the consensus that last Thursday, May 29, be dedicated to sober reflection, particularly, on past mistakes in the country's course of nation building and articulation of national interest.
President Goodluck Jonathan, in the May Day broadcast, remarked inter alia: “It is a sad fact that... all the gains of the past 15 years of democratic governance in our country are threatened by the presence of international terrorism on our shores. Our dear country, Nigeria is facing a new challenge. A war has been unleashed on us. Extremist foreign elements, collaborating with some of our misguided citizens, are focused on an attempt to bring down our country and the democracy and freedom we cherish and celebrate today.” He added: “The despicable abduction of school girls from Chibok in Borno State has brought to the awareness of the entire world, the heartless brutality of these terrorists who want to instigate a descent into anarchy and balkanize our nation.” The President declared: “For our citizens who have joined hands with Al Qaeda and international terrorists in the misguided belief that violence can possibly solve their problems, our doors remain open to them for dialogue and reconciliation, if they renounce terrorism and embrace peace;” adding, “My government, while pursuing security measures, will explore all options, including readiness to accept unconditional renunciation of violence by insurgents, and to ensure their de-radicalization, rehabilitation and re-integration into the broader society.”Comrade Chijioke Odom, National Director of Campaigns and Publicity, Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), speaking to National Daily, subscribed to the popular views that Boko Haram insurgents have declared war against the Nigerian State. The violence emanating from the rabid fanaticism of the Boko Haram terrorists was construed to have gone  far beyond conventional social uprising or manifest discontentment. Odom acknowledged that the Boko Haram insurgency has created very complicated security situation.
Accordingly, Odom articulated that President Jonathan should fight the Boko Haram insurgency with multilateral methods. “The President may adopt the three Ps  People, Process and Platforms - in handling the warfare,” he said. He emphasized that the President could have a re-think on adopting sole military actions, and that in throwing the doors of government open for dialogue, should explore open windows that could be exploited from some statesmen or stakeholders who have access to members of the Boko Haram.
Invariably, it was considered not to be out of place for people like Senator Ali Ndume, currently being prosecuted for exposure of having  link with Boko Haram insurgents by Mohammed Konduga, a former Boko Haram spokesperson; Senator Ahmed Zanna, who the JTF once said they arrested Shuaibu Mohammed Bama, a wanted Boko Haram Commander, at his residence in Maiduguri, Borno State. More so, Kabiru Umar (aka Kabiru Sokoto),  the Boko Haram Commander who was prosecuted for masterminding the Madalla Catholic Church bombing,  already convicted of terrorism charges and sentenced to life imprisonment, was last week, reported to have made an appeal to President Goodluck Jonathan for pardon. Umar was further said to have volunteered to assist in brining the Boko Haram insurgency to an end” if his request for a pardon was granted by the President.” In addition, former President Olusegun Obasanjo also volunteered to intervene. He held a meeting with family members of the Boko Haram insurgents in Abeokuta, Ogun State, last week. Mallam Shehu Sani, President of Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria,  had in a statement in Kaduna  revealed that the meeting “was to open a new channel of dialogue with the Boko Haram;” adding that “it was aimed at finding a way of releasing the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.” Sani accordingly declared: “This is to confirm that the meeting actually took place and I was part of it. The meeting was solely aimed at exploring the possibility of opening a new channel for dialogue or negotiation with the sect members towards securing the release of the abducted Chibok girls held in captivity for over a month.”
Apparently, the amnesty President Jonathan presented to the Boko Haram can only be formally or informally facilitated by people who know them,  like the Niger Delta militants uprising. Thus, the President could start the amnesty from the known to the unknown.
The CLO Campaigns Director emphasized that these are alternatives that the President should endeavour to explore. He contended that since the Boko Haram insurgents are believed to be invisible or unknown, it would be judicious to deploy people who interface with them in their secrecy to dialogue with them to resolve the insecurity crisis. There were indications that in war simulation, not all negotiations, bargaining or tradeoffs are brought to public knowledge. Odom advocated that “reasonable leaders could co-opt people like Obassanjo, Shehu Sani, Zanna and others, to negotiate through a back door to get the crisis resolved in very subtle manners in the national interest.” He added that government must harness the platforms or processes provided by these people but must be cautious to know who is genuine in the crisis resolution.
Odom further decried that Jonathan has been indifferent to using discretional powers at his behest prescribed by the Constitution which, he said, has plunged the country into monumental violence. “President Jonathan in handling the Boko Haram insurgency deserves to adopt discretional initiatives but prefers consultation. The President has over 90 discretional powers in the constitution to exercise without approval of the National Assembly.  He is playing politics of  2015  with the whole thing,” Odom contended.
The CLO Publicity Director decried that at a time there were serious revelations that could lead to the exposure of sponsors of Boko Haram, but that the President appeared to look in an opposite direction and concentrating energy on military operations, perhaps because of the profile of people suspiciously linked in the revelations.
Alhaji Alhassan Mohammed Goni, a spiritualist in Adamawa State, was gathered to have “threatened to expose the sponsors of Boko Haram insurgency if the group does not suspend the current bloodletting and hostilities in the country within two weeks.” Goni was said to have disclosed that “among those sponsoring Boko Haram activities are top politicians and traditional rulers with the sole aim of causing confusion in the country.”
There was also a revelation in the National Assembly that “Bandits and insurgents operating in parts of the North are ferried in by helicopters along with their weapons likely from foreign lands to launch their attacks.”   Senator Abu Ibrahim from Katsina State was said to have revealed that attackers of some of the affected places were not local people but were air-dropped from somewhere else along with their supplies. Odom chided that the President that these among other revelations were made without proper investigations.
Chief Victor Umeh, National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), was also gathered to have declared in Enugu last week that prominent politicians who threatened to make Nigeria ungovernable for President Goodluck Jonathan after the 2011 presidential election are behind the violent activities of the Boko Haram sect. “We cannot forget completely that in 2010 before the general elections in 2011, some prominent politicians in this country threatened that if Jonathan ever became the President of this country, they will make the country ungovernable and since Jonathan became President in 2011, that threat has become a reality,  the country is being destabilized, the President is hugely being distracted from pursuing his transformation agenda. As people try to associate Boko Haram with religious bigots, I have always seen it differently that the spate of terrorism being passed through in this country is the handiwork of disgruntled politicians. It may be possible that some elements may have been recruited to do that, but it has been a joke carried too far,” Umeh had declared.
President Jonathan, however, in his Democracy Day broadcast, acknowledged in part: “…in a democracy, such as we are building, people can have differences while sharing worthy values and standing together in opposition to the scourge of terrorism. Nigeria is the only country we have and we must all work to preserve it for present and future generations. . I have instructed our security forces to launch a full-scale operation to put an end to the impunity of terrorists on our soil. I have also authorized the security forces to use any means necessary under the law to ensure that this is done. I assure you that Nigeria will be safe again, and that these thugs will be driven away  it will not happen overnight, but we will spare no effort to achieve this goal.”

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