Negotiating With Boko Haram

BokoHaram-GUNSAS long as the objectives are to rescue the over 200 Chibok girls who have been in the captivity of Boko Haram for more than a year and to restore peace to the war-ravaged North East of Nigeria, it would be a welcome development for the Federal Government to hold talks with the insurgents. President Muhammadu Buhari’s hint the other day of the prospect of a negotiation with the group is, therefore, a sure step towards peace, which Nigerians should not be afraid to take. The country has been traumatised beyond description by the insurgent group. The wounds are deep and the wailing unceasing. An end must be sought and found to the senseless blood-letting.

While military efforts to defeat the Boko Haram are on course, an effective engagement as proposed by the president may contribute in some ways to preventing the insurgency from lingering any further. The president fully well acknowledged the grim reality of the insecurity in the country and the imperative of engagement with the group when he said that the activities of the insurgents were a great threat to the economic development of the nation. And that until the insurgents were routed and peace attained, much progress would not be recorded in any sector of the nation.

Since the emergence of Boko Haram, the Federal Government has made several efforts to negotiate with the group. In this regard, the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan once set up a presidential committee as part of the quest to understand the grievances of the group and to negotiate with them. The government went further to negotiate with some supposed
Boko Haram leaders who were later discovered to be anything but the true representatives of the group. This fact was brought into focus by the escalation of attacks in the midst of the talks. But this was after the government had invested huge resources in the failed peace deal.

Thus it is commendable that the Buhari government is considering another round of engagement with Boko Haram as part of the options to end its mindless killings. However, it is necessary that the government takes some steps to avoid making such a repeat of the charade, which previous attempts in this regard turned out to be. It is true that Nigerians are eager for the Chibok girls and other people being held by Boko Haram to be freed and for peace to return to the North East. But the government must not allow itself to be stampeded into negotiating with anybody from a position of weakness.

The government must demonstrate its resolve to negotiate from the position of strength by ensuring that the conditions for the talks are acceptable to the citizens and Nigerians would like to know what the terrorists really want. Here the government must recall the fact that Buhari has said that he would only negotiate with credible leaders of the group. In other words, before negotiation can take place, the government must identify credible leaders of the group and not self-appointed leaders whose only driving motive is pecuniary.

The task of identifying the credible leaders of the group would, of course, entail painstaking intelligence gathering. The government must therefore activate its intelligence gathering apparatus and ensure that there is grass-roots engagement before the actual talks. This is very important because Boko Haram has ceased being a single, coherent organisation since it has been largely dislodged by the military from its strongholds. There are apparently now factions in the group, franchisees and phony representatives. And this is why its mode of operation has changed from taking over communities with sophisticated weapons to individual Boko Haram members engaging in suicide bombing. Thus, intelligence gathering and the actual negotiation should be done discreetly without giving it undue publicity.

For the negotiation, the government should choose representatives who would be mutually acceptable to it and Boko Haram. The government needs to be strategic in order to win the confidence of Boko Haram as regards its sincerity. The country can no longer endure being stalked by the activities of the terror group. It should deploy every legitimate means at its disposal to reach an enduring peace deal so it can move on to attend to other pressing issues of governance in the country.

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  • Ikechukwu Okeke

    Negotiate with who

    • Presious Bazunu

      No sharia law no Boko haram, no negotiations

  • Baba Adini

    Guardian, you don’t negotiate with criminal gangs. Boko Haram is not going to be the last terrorist organization in Nigeria, neither is it the first. Obasanjo and Jonathan failed to learn and apply the principles of fast and furious response to terrorists just like their predecessors, Shagari did to stop Maitatsinein in 1980 and Babangida did to stop Izala in 1991. If Buhari and the Nigerian elites think that Boko Haram wants negotiations they are dreaming. Boko Haram has declared war on Nigeria and the only way to win this war is through the principle of organized warfare. In any case, your assertion that “Nigerians would like to know what the terrorists really want” is no issue, because the terrorist group has made it clear time and time again that they do not want western education, no police, no election, no false Muslims, no Christianity, no government other than Islamic caliphate that is pure and ruled by sharia law. Are these the kind of people that want negotiations. Nigeria does not belong to them alone. It belongs to all Muslims whether pure or un-pure, Christians, pagans, infidels, unbelievers, and even witches and wizards if there are.
    When it started, northern elites were comparing their actions to the militancy in the Niger Delta rather than encourage the federal government to adopt the Shagari doctrine of addressing religious terrorist organizations with fast and furious military response. Our neighbors in Niger and Cameroon were not willing to cooperate, because most African countries want Nigeria to break apart. Boko Haram now has presence in 3 countries (Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon). So, how do you negotiate with these groups from country to country?
    To flush out these lazy elements of progress, the federal government should declare a state of emergency in the Boko Haram states, locked down the states, close borders to Boko Haram countries and block all forms of supplies to Boko Haram. Further identify countries through international collaboration selling arms, medicine, and food to Boko Haram (BK). In addition, embark on massive military campaign as follows;
    1. Identify BK states and the population that will be affected by this massive military operation
    2. Stockpile food and medicine to cover the period of possible military operation
    3. Lock down those states without entry and exit for a set period.
    4. Individuals leaving must declare destination, which must be verifiable by security operatives
    5. Declare a state of emergency on those states and appoint an administrator who will work with the military command and identify BK source of food, medicine, finance, and arms supply
    6. Begin a wide scale search for guns, ammunition, and weapons of mass destruction from house to house, church to mosque, farms to gardens, and even palaces to bushes without fear or favor
    7. Make tougher guns and weapon possession laws that would lead to a minimum of 30 years jail for
    illegally possessing unregistered weapon and minimum of 50 years for selling and illegally registering a weapon
    8. Regulate local gun manufacturing, distribution, and sales, and put a system in place to monitor amount of local gun produce daily
    9. Regulate hurting by ensuring that local hunters register their local guns and encourage animal husbandry instead of hurting and killing innocent animals or engaging in illicit activities under the pretense of hurting
    10. Begin enlightenment and acceptance campaign of one another by letting every one in Nigerian know that we are one even though our tribes and religion may differ. Negotiating with any terrorist organization often breeds further terrorists who themselves will seek undue attention at the expense of other peoples lives. Nigeria is greater than anybody or
    group of people who are out to destroy the nation.
    Guardian if you like publish this, even though truth is bitter, it takes courage to tell it as it is.

    • Chukwu Michael

      Buhari can never permit organized war fare against them because that will contradict his allegation on Jonathan that he had declared war on the Northerners when Jonathan intended holistic war against them. Buhari is a hypocrite. He is never willing to face the sect with the intencity the issue deserves. Whether the Command base is shifted or not, whether Chad and other sorrounding Nations are involved or not, he Buhari is yet to be drastic and decisive with the matter. His desire to negotiate is the best option for him to divert attentions to the fact that he formed them to make the country ungovernable for Jonathan. Buhari always talks with the Northen elders and IBB on the approach to pacify Boko Haram. Why the sect is more aggressive now is to make us believe Buhari is also their enemy. No. He is not . He is their father.

  • Ify Onabu

    It appears that the Guardian editors have lost their sense of reasoning. Otherwise, how would they support the notion that the Federal Government of Nigeria should ‘negotiate’ with terrorists? The rescue of the kidnapped girls is not something that has to be negotiated. Proper intelligence must be collected and painstaking military planning undertaken to rescue the girls where ever they are. The USA did not need to negotiate with Al Qaeda to eliminate Mr Bin Laden. Any attempt to negotiate with blood- thirsty killers will eventually involve some compromise which will weaken the Nigerian state and encourage gangs to take up arms against our people in future.

    • Chukwu Michael

      How then do you want them—Guardian to be in the good book of Tyrany Buhari?

  • Presious Bazunu

    No sharia law no Boko haram, no negotiations.
    Nigeria is not an Islamic country…….

  • OkwuBndu

    To engage on a wild goose chase in the sense of negotiations with Boko Haram will amount to the highest level of not being sincere with ourselves as a nation. At this point, who will say he doesn’t know what Boko Haram wants? Have they not made it clear from their operations so far that they want the total islamization of Nigeria or part of it? So how do you negotiate with such an organization willing to commit suicide to achieve their objective??? If we want to be honest with ourselves, we need confront their ideology head-on and stop dancing arround the issues while precious human lives are being wasted by a blood thirsty group who has been brainwashed to believe that if they kill infidels they will end up in heaven. Since most Nigerian Moslems nurse hidden sympathy for them, a realistic solution can only mean a referendum to separate those that desire the Islamic Caliphate and allow them their space to be. But to keep talking of negotiations with such people while they continue gradually infiltrating the wider Nigerian society is only a rrecipe for total disaster waiting to happen when it will no more be controllable.

  • Chukwu Michael

    This is rubish. Buhari never said he will negotiate with them. He said he will take the lead to the battle front and deal with them. Besides, negotiation means sorroudering to the insurgents. If you negiotiate with them today, tomorrow, they will rise again because there will be negotiation and who knows the terms of the negotiation. Criminals are not negotiated with rather they are dealt with according to the Law. Negotiation means protecting them from paying for evils they had done and are still doing. Negotiating with them means symparthy with them. Negotiation means praising them and telling the world that they were right in doing what they have been doing. Negotiating with them should prompt negotiating with the Biafrans and those in detention released for negotiation. No one is a monopoly of violence. Harmathan does not mean there is no more thunder. If this is the way Buhari wants to use to compensate them because he made a promise to them so the can destabilise Jonathan’s regime, then Buhari has lots of problems in his hands stoping the sects as his secrets will then be exposed to Nigerians that he is the actual sponsor of Boko Haram which he has been denying.



  • Nwade Chudi

    But what is difference between what GEJ did and criticized by PMB during the last National election and what PMB is doing now. PMB from his recent action has no policy on insurgency when he was criticizing GEJ for not being strong and begging our neighbouring countries for help .He has gone beyond what GEJ did in asking for help, when he has not even tried his plan. So they know the real Boko Haram leaders and they kept quite all these while. If they know ,who the real leaders are and kept quite , the souls of all that were kill is in their hands , by so saying , their hands are fully of blood of innocent Nigerians.Nigerians are watching the unmasking of the leaders of murderous Boko Haram and who identified them. A lot will be heard in the near distance future on Boko Haram .

    • francis EKEH

      my bros you have said my mind .Boko haram is the seed that Buhari contributed to sow , take it from me BOKO HARAM will consume him and his government in no distant time.