Speaking recently at the press centre of the Circle Diplomatic in Geneva, former President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, rubbished claims that his administration negotiated with fake Boko Haram terrorists. In his words:
“We did not negotiate with fake Boko Haram. I agree that within that period, especially whenever there was a problem, people volunteered all manner of assistance. It is just like what, my successor, President Buhari said in a recent media chat that if his government gets credible leaders of the sect, they would be willing to discuss with them.”
“People will come to you with all kinds of names. But my government never set up a team to negotiate with Boko Haram. We found out that the activities of the terrorists were coming from a section of the country, the North East, and they were more active in two states, Borno and Yobe.”
“There was never a time we negotiated with Boko Haram. I think this whole idea is all politics. The world over, people do and say all kinds of things in the name of politics.But then it is wrong for people to play politics with very serious national issues.
The only group we negotiated with which started when I was a deputy governor was the militants in an area called the Niger Delta.”
“I believe that if we had negotiated with Boko Haram, we would have come out with an action programme in that regard. When we negotiated with Niger Delta militants, we were able to do that because you could identify them and they had a clear position on all the issues.”
“In that case we were able to come out with what we called the amnesty programme which brought about the end of militancy in that part of our country where crude oil is being produced. We asked the militants to surrender their weapons in exchange for their rehabilitation. We engaged them with relevant training and placed many of them on a monthly allowance.”
“Some of them were trained outside Nigeria and some were encouraged to set up businesses and so on. For a negotiation to take place there should be certain expectations from both sides. We just couldn’t negotiate with the terrorists because such expectations could not be established.”