by Stanley Azuakola
The amnesty drive for Boko Haram is well and truly on.
The Leadership newspaper is reporting today that at least four governors in northern states have initiated talks with members of the radical sect.
The four governors according to the report are Isa Yuguda of Bauchi, Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe, Kashim Shettima of Borno and Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe.
Governor Aliyu (Niger governor) stated that the amnesty programme was not an automatic solution to the problems of Boko Haram but meaningful dialogue with the sect.
Opening the Northern States Speakers’ Forum conference in Minna, the state capital, the governor explained that the purported rejection of the amnesty offer by Boko Haram was to further widen the scope of discussion and urged Nigerians not to be discouraged by the media report.
Aliyu specifically called on the government of the vulnerable states to intensify contact with the sect so that there would be no hitches when the federal government reels out the amnesty programme.
The governor, who is also the chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum, said that the Boko Haram members were not ghosts because the government of Bauchi, Gombe, Borno and Yobe had established contacts with them.
“I think when people hear amnesty they think it’s something that is the solution to the security challenges. No! That is the process; it is like saying come and let us discuss; all what you have done, I am not going to look at that. But people think by amnesty the problem is solved, No! ” he stated.
According to him, “Because somebody says they are rejecting amnesty, we are discouraged. No! It is part of the negotiation, raising the antenna so that discussion will take place.”
While commending the Borno State government for raising a committee on the amnesty, he said that it was a good thing also that Bauchi, Yobe and Gombe states had hitherto established contact with the members of the sect. He stated that the effort made by the affected state governments would provide the avenue to properly organise the amnesty so that when the federal government is ready, the states would be ready.
On the legislative function, Aliyu described the legislature as the most powerful arm of government and urged the state lawmakers to make laws to promote peace in the country.
Earlier, the chairman of the speakers’ forum and speaker of the Kebbi State House of Assembly, Hon. Aminu Musa Jega, stated that the forum would be discussing the security challenges in the north and the proposed amnesty for Boko Haram by the federal government during the meeting.