Boko Haram militants yesterday reportedly offered to swop the Chibok girls with its detained militants.
Coming soon after the Presidency made an official statement indicating its positive inclination towards dialogue with the militant group, we of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) consider this as a positive development.
Unlike the procrastination and deception which characterized Jonathan’s administration and which caused the prolonged tension over the abducted girls, the new Buhari regime needs to seize every good opportunity at the nick of time. Buhari must not only strike while the iron is hot, he must make the iron hot by striking.
The militants’ offer opens a new window of opportunity for the commencement of dialogue. Many experts in the field of insurgency have affirmed that military option alone is not enough to end the Boko Haram phenomenon. The footsoldiers need to be rehabilitated. Socio-economic life must be revitalized in the North East of Nigeria. The Federal Government also needs to speedily develop infrastructure in the affected area.
Above all, genuine dialogue must be put in place, unlike the phantom talks with fake militants which took place during the Jonathan regime. This will not be anything peculiar to Nigeria because other foreign governments have engaged rebels in similar talks in the past.
Spain dialogued with the Basque Separatists. Italy dialogued with the Red Brigade. Britain held prolonged talks with the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Turkey discussed with the PKK. Even the United States recently held a round table with the Taliban in Qatar.
The whole world is waiting for the girls. We want our daughters back. The biological parents have gone through unbearable trauma. Some of them have lost their lives during the painful wait. MURIC therefore supports such an exchange of prisoners as would bring back our girls.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)