Boko Haram, Amnesty and Goodluck Jonathan.
Nigeria has always been known as a bastion of corruption, as much as it hurts me to say this its the truth. Its been well documented, both by our local press and citizenry, and also by the international society. The boldfaced horrors of government looting, corrupt and criminal politicians and abject poverty are interwoven in the most bizarre of ways. But a new dimension in the last decade has been added to our calamity. Terrorism.
Now, i know this term has been used and thrown around pretty frequently especially after the September, 11 2001 attacks on the US world trade center. The term has garnered more frequent use in our day to day vocabulary as our world constantly changes. Simply put this is what it means : Any act by a person, group of people, government or organization that seeks to cause harm upon any target intended or otherwise with the aim of destabilizing and causing death or injury upon anyone. The defining hallmark is destabilization, be it economic, political or financial it seeks to throw a wrench in the normal flow of everyday lives.
Boko Haram is terrorist organization operating out of the Northern part of Nigeria. They have killed thousands of innocent people and have caused mayhem to that and other parts of the country. They have even splintered up into different smaller groups some of which pledge allegiance to Al-qaeda. The Nigerian government has not been able to quash this threat and has been nothing short of incompetent in trying to nip this rising wave of violence in the bud. Simply put its been disastrous, thousands of innocent lives have been lost through senseless acts of terror and nothing of serious impact is being done to put an end to this nonsense.
But true to its previous gestures of appeasement, the Nigerian government led by President Goodluck Jonathan now seeks to grant amnesty to this group, just like it appeased the Niger Delta militants with millions of dollars in compensation to its leaders every month, all in the name of laying down their arms and not disturbing the oil flow in the Delta.. our only cash cow. I think this is a bad idea and a very bad precedent, its like rewarding bad behavior, its just wrong.
Amnesty has worked in some countries, South Africa for example had a successful truth and reconciliation commission in the aftermath of apartheid as it tried to rid itself of the terrible atrocities and memories of that era. But it was successful only because certain conditions precedent were fulfilled. Conditions like perpetrators owning up to their evil acts and vowing to desist from doing them, meeting with their victims, and gradually fostering a spirit of tolerance and forgiveness.
To President Goodluck, if these conditions are not met, granting amnesty will only cover a melting pot simmering with hate and disdain for a short time, that pot will eventually explode with unimaginable acts of violence. Do not be on the wrong side of history sir.
The Conditions I propose are as follows:
1.The innocent Victims of Boko haram should be front and center, they should be properly identified and compensated financially and emotionally.Their grievances should be heard and their present and continuous security should be guaranteed.
2. The Boko Haram leadership and perpetrators of these acts of violence should offer a public apology, and vow to desist from further acts of violence. The apology should also include taking responsibility for specific acts of terror and apologizing to the victims and the nation as a whole.
3.The government should then set up a committee to do a detailed investigation to recover arms and ammunition, single out those members responsible of making the explosives that rocked our country and have them rehabilitated.
4. The Christian and Muslim leaders should have a joint press conferee condemning acts of violence by Boko haram and any other terror group, and affirming that as long as the conditions mentioned above are met honestly and truthfully with full and total disclosure they will support them.
5. The last and most important part of the puzzle. Under no circumstance should money exchange hands, the government should not give the leadership of boko haram any money for appeasement, doing this only goes to show that bad behavior and acts of terror are a profitable venture, so why not do these despicable things if you can get very rich by doing them. It is doing them a favor by granting amnesty in the first place. Money can be earmarked for rehabilitation centers for past members. This money should be administer by a neutral commission probably headed by someone from the east, and at the end if the process a full report and audit of the funds should be issued.
I am not totally swayed neither am i in support of granting amnesty to these terror groups, but maybe in some instances it is the best thing to do to stop the senseless violence and innocent bloodshed that Nigeria has witnessed in recent years. If the Steps above are implemented truthfully and without any equivocation, we might just be on the path to ending this bloodshed and putting this group behind us.
God bless Nigeria, as it tries to find its way to prosperity and an equal opportunity nation for all regardless of ethnicity, gender and religious beliefs.