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By Richard Ihediwa


he naming of former Military Head of State and Presidential candidate of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), by the Jama’atul Ahlis Sunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, also called Boko Haram, to lead six prominent northerners, to mediate between it and the Federal Government has continued to generate serious political debate with many believing it was part of a smear campaign by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to rubbish Buhari’s image ahead of the 2015 Presidential elections. Though Buhari had on Wednesday announced that he would not be part of that negotiation team on the ground that he has nothing to do with the sect and do not know what they stand for, the issue of the motive behind his being named, and who was actually behind the issue had continued to be on the front burner. Buhari had also said he cannot work for either Boko Haram or the government noting that their ideologies do not tally with his and that of his party. He said he was not and has not been contacted by either Boko Haram or the government and his supporters insist on opinions that the issue may be surrounded by certain political undertones. Last Wednesday, a spokesperson of the group, Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulazeez, who is also said to be doubling as the Second-in-Command (Amir) to the sect’s leader, Imam Abubakar Shekau, had in a tele-conference with journalists named Buhari to lead the team which also has Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno, former Yobe State governor, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Ambassador Gaji Galtimari and Hajia Aisha Wakil and her husband, Alkali Wakil. The sect gave conditions for the proposed peace talk with government including holding the talks in Saudi Arabia, which it said was informed by the insincerity of the Nigeria government for dialogue and its betrayal in the past. The sect also demanded that government must not only apprehend, but prosecute former Borno state governor, Senator Modu Sheriff according to the laws of the land as well as compensate members of the group and rebuild their places of worship destroyed during 2009 uprising, which led to the alleged murder of their leader, Mohammed Yusuf. It also demanded that all their members, who were arrested and are under the custody of security agencies, must be released immediately, just as their wives and children who were displaced following the crises should be rehabilitated into the society. The sect thereafter dissociated itself from the recent killings and destruction of property in Maiduguri, saying such attacks were not only politicallymotivated, but carried out by those seeking power in the Borno Emirate council or in government adding that such were against its ideology. The naming of Buhari by the

2015: Gen. Buhari and the Boko Haram conundrum

Gen. Muhammadu Buhari sect to lead the mediation team sparked off series of public debates with many, including the leadership of Buhari’s party, the CPC questioning the rationale for such. While some analysts believe that the sect chose Buhari because of his integrity and the respect he commands across board, others including many CPC chieftains see it from a political point of view, suggesting that it was a ploy by the ruling PDP to defame him ahead of the 2015 election following apprehensions that he remained the most credible opposition candidate for that race. Immediately, the news got to it, the leadership of the CPC rejected the idea and accused the PDP of mischief. First to react was Buba Galadima, a close associate of Buhari, who said the former head of state had told him that he has no link with the sect and that nobody contacted him before the announcement was made. Drawing from this, the leadership of the CPC, after wide consultations, announced that the group did not appoint Buhari as a mediator. The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Rotimi Fashakin in a statement last Thursday said reports naming Buhari as a link for the sect was aimed at tarnishing his image. Fashakin, who accused PDP of “cheap propaganda” said Buhari has never been directly or remotely connected with any insurrection or insurgency in the country and has never been contacted by either Boko Haram or government to mediate any talks. Also reacting to the issue, the National Chairman of the party, Prince Tony Momoh on Tuesday

Leader of the Boko Haram sect, Abubakar Shekau in Abuja said the naming was a ploy to drag Buhari into the Boko Haram issue in order to tarnish his image ahead of the 2015 elections. He said the party does not see the rationale of asking Buhari to attend a meeting on issue that has nothing to do with him. “There is no need for any other person to attend a meeting between the Federal Government and Boko Haram for whatever grievances they say they have. We in the CPC do not see where Buhari comes in; we are concerned by the way the name of General Buhari is being dragged into this affair. “Another thing is that nobody reached out to General Buhari to say they have been nominated or is being nominated along with others, to mediate or be witnesses to discussion between Boko Haram and the Federal Government,” he said. Momoh said Buhari had not told anybody or the party that he was interested in the nomination adding that his party “would not associate with issues that involved criminality.” On Wednesday, Buhari himself responded to the said nomination saying he has nothing to do with and intends to have nothing to do with the sect. Buhari said he does not know any member of the sect nor the cause the group stands for. He noted that the principles of the group did not tally with the ideology of his party, even as he stressed that the CPC had never believed in the wanton destruction of life and property, which he accused the group of championing. “I do not know any member of Boko Haram. Secondly I do not

believe in their cause. I do not believe and I do not know of any religion that will go and kill people and burn schools. Ordinarily, if there was a stage where I mentioned anything about the sect, that was when I said that there are three different groups of Boko Haram. “One that was led by Mohammadu Yusuf, whom we knew very well in the military. He was a very fine soldier, we all knew of, they arrested him and handed him over to the police, a healthy and hearty young man, and they killed him. Again his inlaw was murdered and their houses were razed and the Borno State government compensated them. These things we criticised. “The second Boko Haram was a criminal who used to blow up banks and thieve money and issue statements as Boko Haram. Then I said that the biggest Boko Haram is the Federal Government itself. This is because it has all the power to stop those killings. This has led a section of the country to be paralysed. So how can I represent people I do not know? Buhari made it clear that he cannot work either for Boko Haram or for government, saying he does not believe in destruction of life and property. “I do not believe in whatever they are seeking. I cannot work for either the Boko Haram or government. I do not believe in what they are doing, in destruction of life and property, and the government does not want to intervene to stop all that. With all the military and security, the Federal Government could not stop that”, he said. Observers tend to critically look at the allegations that the

PDP was out to tarnish Buhari’s image from a wider perspective. Buhari’s response to the matter, as direct as it were, had rattled the Presidency which yesterday reacted by heavily criticising him. Reacting, the Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, accused Buhari of advocating for violence in the past saying it was out of place for him to accuse the Federal Government of being behind Boko Haram. The president’s aide referred to General Buhari’s claim that Boko Haram is a creation of the Federal Government as ‘ridiculous’. Referring to Buhari’s claim that he doesn’t know the agenda of Boko Haram and any religion that condones violence, Okupe recalled that “during the election, during the campaign, General Buhari himself campaigned for violence… it is too late in the day to try to back track. Those who sow wind should not try and start and begin to look good.” Drawing from Okupe’s position one begins to wonder how Buhari’s alleged statements in the past when he accused PDP of rigging elections amounted to being behind Boko Haram. Political observers see the reaction of the Presidential aide as pointing to some political under-currents which may not be far from the quest for the 2015 elections especially as it is believed that the PDP see Buhari as the most credible and formidable opposition candidate against the backdrop of moves to merge major opposition parties to square up with the PDP in 2015.

Peoples Daily Newspaper, Friday 09, November, 2012  

Peoples Daily Newspaper, Friday 09, November, 2012 Edition

Peoples Daily Newspaper, Friday 09, November, 2012  

Peoples Daily Newspaper, Friday 09, November, 2012 Edition