Gov Babangida Aliyu: Calls for discreet negotiations with Boko Haram
Aliyu, who is also Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum also bemoaned the north’s failure to develop the region despite providing leadership for the country for most of its first decade of independence.
While observing an international dimension to the Boko Haram crisis, he said:
“We must not also run away from the international dimension of this crisis. Borno is a border state to Chad. We know what is happening in Sudan. We know what has happened in Libya. We know when Qaddafi was alive the kind of relationship he was having with some of these neighbouring countries.”
In calling for discreet negotiations with the group, he said: “Negotiation with these people does not have to be a formal government negotiation.”
Using the example of Borno, where the Boko Haram’s violent campaign is fiercest, the governor said: “We have religious leaders in Borno, we have the traditional rulers. They could be empowered to go into negotiation with this people.”
Casting blame on those he described as misguided Islamic preachers for the crisis, he told Africa Today: “At times, if you go to hear the kind of sermon they make, you will be wondering whether it is an Islamic sermon or it’s just a sermon of somebody who is annoyed with the society.”
Faults promise of paradise
Faulting the promise of paradise given to lure potential suicide bombers, he said: “Any good Muslim will tell you that suicide is not part of Islam. In fact, we have it that if you commit suicide you will not go into paradise no matter your reason. So for anybody to say he is a suicide bomber because he is extending Islamic tenets is not true.
“Nothing happens in the village or community without the knowledge of the traditional rulers. So any movement of foreign people in a village they will detect. But maybe because we are now in a modern age of the SSS (State Security Service) nobody places attention to them.”
Laments on Northern Leadership
Aliyu also lamented that the North failed to take advantage of its dominance of political power in the country to develop itself, saying: “Of the over 50 years independence, in terms of leadership, how many years have northerners provided leadership for this country? So in terms of commensurate reward what should have happened?”
Noting that the North has all it takes to develop the region but cannot do so unless it goes in search of new answers because “when you have a certain section of the society that is already becoming violent, it means that the old answers are no longer viable; you need to look for new answers. And I hope we are honest with one another, otherwise we will continue to be backward.”
…urges FG to repair refineries
Aliyu also urged a reorientation of ideological perspectives in the North, saying: “You need to conserve what is conservative and you need to progress where you need to. You can’t continue to be conservative when the people need education, you need infrastructure to be able to take care of the people. Now if you cannot do that, then definitely there is nothing to conserve.”
Lamenting what he saw as the systematic destruction of the country’s refineries, he said the argument on fuel subsidy removal would have been unnecessary if the nation’s refineries were functional.
He said: “If the refineries are working or there are refineries in the country, the talk of subsidy won’t be there,” and insisted that Nigeria has found it impossible to make its refineries work “because those who are getting free money would not want it to work.”