We’re already negotiating with B’Haram, says Buhari
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has finally laid to rest the speculations regarding whether or not the Federal Government would negotiate with Boko Haram, as the president yesterday, in Paris, the French capital, confirmed that talks with the dreaded Islamic terrorists had, in fact, begun.
Buhari, who stated this while responding to questions from members of the Nigerian community in France under the auspices of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), said the decision was taken in view of the need to secure the release of over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped at the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State.
He said his administration was worried by the continued stay of the girls in the hands of their captors and would work tirelessly to get them released.
The president noted that the unfortunate incident has attracted global attention and sympathy within Nigeria, a situation the Federal Government could not afford to treat with levity.
His words: “The issue of Chibok girls has occupied our minds and because of the international attention it drew and the sympathy through out the country and the world, the government is negotiating with some of the Boko Haram leadership.”
President Buhari noted that government had to first identify genuine members of the sect so that it would not make the mistake of engaging the wrong persons.
“It is a very sensitive development in the sense that first we have to establish: Are they genuine leaders of the Boko Haram? That is number one. Number two, what are their terms? The first impression we had was not very encouraging.”
The President said one the conditions given by the group was to release one of its members who has been strategic in developing Improvised Explosives Devices (IEDs), a demand that government will not accept.
“They wanted us to release one of their leaders who is a strategic person in developing and making Improvised IEDs that is causing a lot of havoc in the country by blowing people in churches, mosques, marketplaces, motor parks and other places. But it is very important that, if we are going to talk to any body, we have to know how much he is worth.
According to him, “Let them bring all the girls and then, we will be prepared to negotiate, I will allow them to come back to Nigeria or to be absolved in the community. We have to be very careful, the concern we have for the Chibok girls, one only imagine if they got a daughter there between 14 and 18 and for more than one and a half year, a lot of the parents who have died would rather see the graves of their daughters rather than the condition they imagine they are in.”
He added: “This has drawn a lot of sympathy though out the world, that is why this government is getting very hard in negotiating and getting the balance of those who are alive.”
President Buhari told Nigerians in Diaspora that his administration would do everything to improve the state of the economy through provision of infrastructure in critical sectors.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, had in July this year confirmed the willingness of government to engage the sect if they were ready.
Adesina, who lamented that the insurgents had attacked many villages and killed scores of peoples, said the Federal Government was not ruling out negotiations with the sect if it would put an end to the activities of the group.
Nigerian Army spokesman, Colonel Sani Usman, was reported in the media as saying that members of the terror group are surrendering “en masse” and that the regional offensive is recording success against the militants.