-Blank NEWS Online (NIGERIA) –From Austen AKHAGBEME:
UNUSUAL times have a way of breeding and bringing up unusual solutions from unusual sources by unusual people.
The above aptly describes the scenario that prompt up the strange visitation of the Kaduna based Islamic Clergy, Sheikh Gumi, to the bandits’ den in the North West recently.
Negotiating with a violent and deadly opposition, be they terrorists, bandits, secessionists, pirates or armed militias for the sake of peace, is not anything new to the world. What is rather strange is going for this controversial option against the background of the truth that such moves are hardly successful in our clime.
Is it not rather too hasty for such defeatists considerations when up until now, no one can particularly tell us what their demands were before the Sheikh ‘s visitation?
The Sheikh, after his visit came up with an option that suggests that the problem of banditry in north west is fundamentally an economic problem. Hence part of his suggestion was to use the regular security votes by the state government, to empower these bigots.
He went further to describe their action as insurrection rather than banditry and this is alarming. If it is truly a problem of insurrection as the clergyman observed, will it be a wise decision to engage with them in a dialogue instead of allowing it to grow into another deadly and costly distraction for us as a nation and for the already overwhelmed military who are seriously and daily engaged in the north East?
Again, won’t that be sending the wrong signals to such other groups in the future as this will be misconstrued to be an inherent weakness of governance and tired leadership and a money spinner for lovers of violence and their collaborators?
Those who suggests that the government should match the bandits, violence for violence, have a point. Apart from the late President Yar’Adua, who with a providential touch, brokered peace successfully with the Niger Delta militants in a round table, with a robust amnesty programme, no negotiations or attempted negotiations has ever worked in Nigeria as it were.
Be that as it may, the indolence and slow response to serious issues that pertains to life and death on the part of our present drivers is another self inflicted hurdle in this matter.
Let someone help me tell the authorities to take a side earlier, quicker, faster than ever before. We cannot afford to have a repeat of what is going on in the north East, here in the north West. The time to act is now.
- Austen AKHAGBEME is a Columnist with Blank NEWS Online