by Hauwa Gambo
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) yesterday issued a statement making it clear that a resort to use of force by the federal government will not solve the problem of Boko Haram violence.
In the statement titled ‘ACF’s last press conference: matters arising,’ which was signed by its Publicity Secretary, Anthony Sani, the organisation echoed the Presidency in calling for dialogue.
“This is due to the fact that the highest commitment which drives terrorists is no more about mundane things but rewards in heavens,” it said. “And that is why the military onslaught on Boko Haram, which claimed over 700 of the sect’s members in 2009, has failed to subdue them; rather it has stoked their activities.
“The preference for dialogue with the Islamist sect is not a matter of choice, but has been necessitated by the realization that hard power of military might is yet to work on terrorists anywhere in the world,” the statement said.
While calling the sect to cease the violence, the group referred to history of violence in Nigeria.
“We must also not forget that Lord Lugard’s strategy of ‘hard strike followed by negotiation from position of strength to secure the best of terms’ has worked on the militants in Niger Delta, but there are no signs that the same approach can work on Boko Haram,” it said.
“Just consider how US, with all its power of military might, had to go home with tails in-between its legs from Vietnam, Iraq and now negotiating its exit strategy from Afghanistan. It is perhaps such experiences that informed the UN Resolution 1963 of 2010. The Resolution could not be meaningless. Put in Prof. Akinyemi’s words, ‘how do you deal with a person who is too willing to die as long as he does not die alone?’
“The right approach is working on such a person’s head and heart. I recall reading Albert Einstein’s frustration when he realized that his invention of Atomic Bomb failed to bring about the desired peace. Instead, it caused destruction in Hiroshima. He said if only he knew the bomb would inspire more destruction and fail to bring about peace in the world, he would have preferred to be a watchmaker.”
The organisation also used the opportunity to denounce media houses that have reported the ACF is in support of the sect: “Talking about belated outings of ACF and northern leaders in condemnation of activities of Boko Haram, I wish to state my demur. As the spokesman of ACF, I cannot recall any violent act by a group in the northern parts of the country which ACF did not openly condemn.”