FG confirms ‘back room’ dialogue with Boko Haram

Presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati

by Isi Esene

The Federal Government yesterday confirmed reports going the rounds that it is in talks with representatives of the radical Islamic sect, Boko Haram.

The group had recently denied any form of dialogue with the government contrary to a statement released by one Habu Mohammed who claimed to be a deputy to the militant sect’s leader, Sheikh Abubakar Shekau.

Observers believe the Boko Haram sect is sectionalized, a development which informs the incoherent messages emanating from its supposed spokesmen.

According to reports, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati explained the mode of engagement with the sect saying:

When government says it is already talking to Boko Haram, the form of that dialogue must be properly understood. I think a lot of people are under the impression that the dialogue involves a situation whereby government officials are sitting on one side, Boko Haram persons are sitting on the other side in an air-conditioned room and there are negotiations across the table. That is not the form of the dialogue.

“The form of the dialogue is that back room channels are being used to reach across with the sole objective of understanding what exactly the grievances of these persons are, what exactly can be done to resolve the crises, in the overall best interest of ensuring peace and stability in Nigeria and the security of life and property.

The presidential spokesman alluded to the amorphous nature of the Islamic sect saying, “One thing that is noteworthy is that the Boko Haram spokesperson made it clear that they were prepared to go a step further to ensure that persons who are using the name of Boko Haram for political and criminal purposes are identified and checked. What that original statement indicated was that indeed Boko Haram has many faces. It confirms that this thing called Boko Haram is such a multifaceted phenomenon.

“The true situation has already been stated by the Honourable Minister of Information on two different occasions. First in an interview, second through a press release, namely that the Federal Government is involved in dialogue with Boko Haram. You will recall that what led to this is that a spokesperson for Boko Haram issued a statement confirming that government and some leaders of Boko Haram were already discussing; in that particular statement the issues being looked at were clearly identified,” Abati says.”

He continued saying the government is ready to engage the radical sect in various levels of intervention and it would not be deterred in its efforts to put the security challenges facing the nation in check.

He expressed the efforts of the government at redirecting the energy of youth to engage in more productive vocations by fast-tracking employment and opening up the agricultural to make it more attractive.

“This is the whole point of using the agricultural sector to transform lives, to create wealth, to create a value chain, the end of which is to create jobs and to engage young people more effectively,” he concluded.

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