Dialogue with Boko Haram is necessary, Sen. Sani
Sen. Shehu Sani (APC-Kaduna Central),said on Thursday that dialogue with the Boko Haram group was necessary to bring about permanent end to insurgency in the country.
Sani told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna that the Federal Government’s interest in negotiation with the group was a welcome development.
The senator advised the government to ensure that the negotiating team was made up of people capable of bringing the insurgents to the negotiating table.
“We need credible personalities who have some level of recognition or respect with the insurgents and a second team to oversee the terms of agreement to their full implementation.
“These are very much necessary to achieve success and put an end to insurgency.
“But we must make it very clear that we will not in anyway surrender our sovereignty to any terror group.
“We will not concede any territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to any insurgent group, and we will not in any way jettison our secular principles as a democratic state.
“If these caveats are clear then we are all out for negotiations,” he said.
The senator said that dialogue and what he described as the ‘peoples’ war’ were effective strategies needed to successfully win the war against insurgency.
He explained that negotiation was needed mainly to free the Chibok girls and other persons kidnapped by the insurgents and also achieve a cease fire to give room for further dialogue.
Sani, however, said that both sides must come to the table with an open mind and be ready to make concession.
“Negotiations require the government to be ready to make concessions by releasing some of the insurgents in return for the Chibok girls and other persons kept in captivity.”
According to him, efforts at negotiation in the past failed because the previous administration was not ready to make concessions.
“The last administration was not ready to release some of the insurgents in its custody in exchange for the Chibok girls.
“We even reached a point of exchange when at the last point the government changed its mind based on security report received from security agencies.
“What I am saying is, you cannot achieve anything when negotiating if you are not ready to make concession.
“We should work on that to at least get the Chibok girls out of harm’s way and out of danger,” he advised.
Sani also advised the Federal Government to involve the communities affected by the activities of the insurgents to effectively crush them.
“You can take a clue from what is happening in Iraq. The successes recorded by Kurds in Northern Iraq against the ISIS were achieved through the people’s war.
“You can see the successes achieved by the Sunni and the Shia against the ISIS; it is more of a people’s war,” he said.
The lawmaker said that the past administration alienated the people instead of involving them in the fight, thereby making them victims and unable to achieve reasonable result.
“Many of the people suffered serious human right violations and abuses under the then military.
“We have seen cases where collective punishment was meted out against people suspected to be harbouring the insurgents.
“We have seen unlawful arrests and prolonged detention and summary executions of people.
“These were clear human right violations which made it impossible for the last administration to achieve meaningful result in the war.
“Therefore, a war that will involve the people is very necessary if we hope to achieve clear success in the war,” the senator said.
Sani also urged the government to intensify military pressure to convince the insurgents that they could not win the war through violence and terror.
“We need the military pressure to push them to the wall and convince them that the only way out is to accept our window of negotiations,” he said.
The senator explained that military pressure was necessary not only in mounting pressure on the insurgents to negotiate, but also protecting innocent people.
“It will also send a clear message that Nigeria would not cede any of its territory to terror groups. ”