• Monday, April 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

A framework for the peace option

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  How really bad is the Nigerian situation at present?

“Let’s not deceive ourselves. The situation has gotten out of hand.” “As a nation, Nigeria is already in the valley of death.”

What is the way out? How soon can we expect a new chapter to be changed on this dark hour in the 100 years of Nigeria’s history?

“There are two options to getting out of the valley. One is to dismember the country. That way those who resent the very notion of Nigeria will have nothing to resent.”

“Keep the pressure on those bastards. Wear them down. Dislodge them from their hideouts. Exterminate them.”

These are some of the refrains from pessimists and hardliners on the present situation in which Nigeria is at siege, with no end in sight to bloodletting.

Since extremist insurgency erupted in Nigeria, no one has come up with a set of solutions either to stem its tide or eliminate it outright. Initial response gave the impression that it was all a reaction to the development that frustrated expectations of a power shift back to the north after the south had a shot at it for eight years. Many leaders in the north did not help matters by insisting that it was the incompetence of then acting President Jonathan that was responsible for the upsurge of terrorism, which climaxed with the bombing in the precincts of Eagle Square as the nation marked its Golden Jubilee in 2010.

At the report of a devastating strike by insurgents, those who delighted in making a political meal out of the unfolding spiral of terrorism sneered, “Serves him right”, in mocking reference to the “clueless” and “bungling” president. It was conveniently forgotten that a certain group of people had been sinned against for taking an extremist, though not necessarily violent, religious position that challenged an existing socio-cultural order.

When Obasanjo once made an attempt to get to the root of the issue, the whole project ended in catastrophe – and predictably so because his motives were not clear. If they were, why didn’t he explore the option further?

Painfully, an emerging popular view is that amnesty be extended to the insurgents. Even if this is a bitter pill to swallow, many are beginning to feel it’s something worth trying. But who will broker the peace process?

The extremists may be faceless and ghostly in the way they operate. However, without necessarily succumbing to terrorism, once their safety is guaranteed, it might be easy to engage with them.

Security agencies have to balance their core operations with identifying persons who are in a position to provide a clue as to where we go from here. Nigeria has never been in shortage of credible people – people who, despite their faiths, transcend religion in their relationships and commitments. People like Matthew Hassan Kukah, Emeka Anyaoku, Bola Ajibola, Bilkisu Yusuf, Maitama Sule, etc, come to mind. Indeed, just anyone who has genuine concern and connections is welcome to join in a team to dialogue with the terrorists in their different shades

 

Tommy ODEMWINGIE

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+2348033068074