Deal with Boko Haram

THOUGH NIGERIA may call it a breakthrough as it enters a swap deal with the Boko Haram, there is no dearth of scepticism at the end of the day.

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Published: Sun 19 Oct 2014, 10:54 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:44 PM

The news from Abuja is that the armed forces have been successful in negotiating an agreement with the militants and they hope the abducted schoolgirls will be released in near future. More than 200 Chibok girls are in the captivity of the militants for the last several months, and the state forces had not been able to penetrate into their rank and file to free them.

The deal reportedly worked out through the good offices of Chad will also lead to a ceasefire of sorts. No details are available about the salient features of the understanding, and what geopolitical price Nigeria has agreed to pay. All said and done, it is no less than capitulation. In an era when Boko Haram and their like in the Middle East, such as the ISIS, are on the move openly challenging the writ of the state and dismantling its social edifice, such deals come to weaken the resolve to fight terrorism.

Nigeria, too, had pledged to exterminate Boko Haram, which had killed thousands of innocent civilians since 2009 when it launched the movement to implement its own brand of beliefs. President Goodluck Jonathan had even gone to the extent of cobbling an international coalition to fight Boko Haram, and had held a conference in Brussels in this regard. In July, Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad and Niger agreed to form a 2,800-strong regional force to tackle Boko Haram. This change of heart apparently hints at political undercurrents, as Jonathan is interested in a new term of presidency and wants social fissures to be bridged.

The president should do some plain talking to make his country’s position clear as to what compelled him to enter into secret negotiations with the dreaded force that threatens the peace and security of Nigeria and the region at large.

As at now, Boko Haram seems to have been successful in dictating its terms as it had negotiated from a position of strength. The reason is that there is no talk of the militants laying down their arms. It is unlear what concessions have been granted to Boko Haram and what role the extremist organisation is going to have in the body politick of the state in times to come. Till then it is a game of wait and watch to see how and when the schoolgirls are released.

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