See The Conditions Buhari Lists Before F.G Enter Dialogue With Abubakar Shekau And Boko Haram
The federal government yesterday said it is willing to negotiate with the genuine leadership of the Boko Haram sect for the release of the school girls who were abducted from Government Secondary School Chibok, Borno State, in April 2014.
The government, however, said for the negotiation to take place, the insurgents, in the event that they do not feel comfortable to engage the government directly, can choose an internationally recognised non-governmental organisation (NGO) to discuss on its behalf, show proof that they are holding the girls and identify the prisoners in detention, which they want the government to release in exchange for the girls.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in an interview with journalists in Nairobi, Kenya, yesterday, said the Nigerian government was ready to dialogue with the genuine leaders of the terror group who can prove they have knowledge about the whereabouts of the girls.
‘‘What we said is that the government, which I preside over, is prepared to talk to bonafide leaders of Boko Haram. If they do not want to talk to us directly, let them pick an internationally recognised non-governmental organisation (NGO), convince them that they are holding the girls and that they want Nigeria to release a number of Boko Haram leaders in detention, which they are supposed to know.
‘‘If they do it through the ‘modified leadership’ of Boko Haram and they talk with an internationally recognised NGO, then Nigeria will be prepared to discuss their release,” the president said.
President Buhari, who spoke to the media on the side-lines of the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI), warned that the federal government will not waste time and resources with “doubtful sources’’ who claim to know the whereabouts of the girls.
‘‘I have made a couple of comments on the Chibok girls and it seems to me that much of it has been politicised.
‘‘We want those girls out and safe. The faster we can recover them and hand them over to their parents, the better for us,’’ a statement by his senior special assistant, media, Garba Shehu, quoted the president to have said.
The president further maintained that the terror group, which pledged allegiance to ISIS, had been largely decimated by the Nigerian military with the support of immediate neighbours – Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin, even as he noted the split in the ranks of the terror group.
‘‘Some of the information about the division in Boko Haram is already in the press and I have read in the papers about the conflict in their leadership.
‘‘The person known in Nigeria as their leader, we understand, was edged out and the Nigerian members of Boko Haram started turning themselves to the Nigerian military.
‘‘We learnt that in an air strike by the Nigeria Air Force, he was wounded. Indeed their top hierarchy and lower cadre have a problem and we know this because when we came into power, they were holding 14 out of the 774 local governments in Nigeria. But now, they are not holding any territory and they have split to small groups attacking soft targets,” the president said.
On the militancy in the Niger Delta region, Buhari declared that while the federal government was also open to dialogue to resolve all contending issues in the area, it was at the moment, doubtful of the ceasefire declared by the militants.
‘‘We do not believe that they (the militants) have announced ceasefire. We are trying to understand them more. Who are their leaders and which areas do they operate and other relevant issues,’’ he said.
The president, however, warned that the Niger Delta militants must dialogue with the federal government or be dealt with in the same way as Boko Haram.
He also gave assurance to existing and prospective foreign investors that their investments in Nigeria would be fully secure and protected.
Speaking at a bilateral meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, President Buhari outlined several steps taken by his administration to secure the country and make doing business easy in Nigeria.
According to the statement by Shehu, Buhari told the Japanese leader that with the defeat of the Boko Haram terrorists by the military, the attention of the administration was now focused on stopping the destruction of the country’s economic assets by militants in the Niger Delta region.
“We are talking to some of their leaders. We will deal with them as we dealt with Boko Haram if they refuse to talk to us.
“As a government, we know our responsibility, which is to secure the environment. It is clear to us that lenders won’t fund projects in insecure environments. We realise that we have to secure the country before we can efficiently manage it,” the president said.
President Buhari told the Japanese prime minister that security in the Gulf of Guinea, which is greatly affected by piracy and armed robbery at sea, was a priority for the Nigerian government.
‘‘We have provided funds to our Navy to buy new platforms, train and effectively organise the personnel to protect the area. We are looking forward to support from developed nations for satellite surveillance covering the Gulf,’’ he added.
Recalling his audience with G7 leaders in Germany, which was attended by the prime minister, Buhari thanked Japan for responding positively to the request by Nigeria for support in the rehabilitation of victims of the Boko Haram insurgency and the rebuilding of infrastructure in the North Eastern part of the country.
He, however, noted that there was still more to do on education, health and other infrastructure to ensure quick and voluntary return of displaced persons to their native communities.
On the United Nations Security Council reform, President Buhari agreed to work with Japan on the matter, stressing that the case for a permanent seat for Africa on the Council was a moral one.
He equally expressed Nigeria’s support for Japan in its bid for a UN resolution on the problems in East China and South China as well as the nuclear tests by North Korea.
‘‘The UN system is sufficient for the resolution of all disputes and no nation should be above the United Nations. This has to be made absolutely clear and I assure the prime minister that I will meet as many leaders as possible at the forthcoming UN General Assembly concerning the issues,” the president said.
In his remarks, Prime Minister Abe congratulated President Buhari for courageously tackling the Boko Haram insurgency.
He said Nigeria and Japan must work together to improve the investment climate in view of the many Japanese companies wishing to invest in Nigeria.
Abe reaffirmed Japan’s commitment to the rapid development of Nigeria through qualitative delivery of ongoing projects in the country, including Jebba hydro power scheme and the Lagos railway project.