Explorative talks by the Federal Government towards an amnesty for members of the Boko Haram insurgency will fail as it is a mission impossible, civil rights activist, Mallam Shehu Sani has predicted.
Sani who rejected his appointment into the Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North told Vanguard that he would not reconsider his decision to withdraw from the committee despite appeals from the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, and other stakeholders in the North.
Sani, who is generally believed to have, at one time made contact with the Boko Haram leadership told Vanguard that the presidency’s approach to the insurgency would not in any way lead to peace as he cited earlier experiences in which he said he was disgraced by the administration.
Sani said he and Dr. Datti Ahmed, who is also believed to have made useful contacts with the Boko Haram leadership were left in the loop by the administration after they had helped to establish contact with the insurgent group.
While affirming his commitment to the realization of peace in the troubled north, he said: “I am passionate about returning this country to the path of stability but the government has in the past frustrated our efforts and refused to implement the reports of our contacts with the insurgents and I choose not to be part of a fruitless exercise that will lead us to nowhere.
“My withdrawal and that of Dr. Datti Ahmed was informed by our experience with the government and the very fact that we don’t want to be messed around again.”
Faulting the composition of the committee, he said: “Almost all of those who are in this committee have never before taken their time to engage in what we engaged in the last three years and I believe that they will have a dosage of what we had in the past.
“What we need to understand is that a mistake has been made right from the announcement of the amnesty which led to the group rejecting it out rightly.
“What the government could have done would have been to first engage through a mediating party, a discreet consultation with the insurgents so as to build confidence and trust and achieve a ceasefire before the commencement of any work.
“But what the government did was simply to want to dictate the terms of peace without even the inputs of the insurgents and this is the area where the government derailed and if you are going to Lagos from Kaduna and you take the road to Maiduguri, no matter the credibility of your driver and the passengers in your bus, you will never reach Lagos.”
Insincerity of FG Noting how he had been let down by the administration in the past, he said: “The Boko Haram gave us about three opportunities to reach out to the government and in this period we gave the insurgents our word that the government is serious about it and we failed them because we were disappointed by the government and all the reports we have written have the input of the leadership of the insurgents and we also reached out to the highest level of government.
“So, if now that they gave us that kind of opportunity that we disappointed them after assuring them that the government means business and it is for peace, how do you imagine our names just flashed on TV as members of a committee without first of all going back to them to explain to them that this is a new initiative.”
Noting the difficulties in dealing and communicating with an insurgent group, he said: “Sometimes to send a message takes about three weeks to reach its destination and to receive a reply takes about another three to four weeks. So, I wonder how a committee would want to finish their assignment within 90 days. I wonder how we will be able to achieve peace in that aspect of it.
“But where the government has failed is that it has not done its home work, it simply wants us to be part of a magical team because it is a magical game. The president told them to go and perform magic and we are not magicians.
“For the president to tell them to go and perform magic he is inadvertently telling them that they are on a mission that is impossible,” he said.