Chief Martin Onovo is the presidential candidate of National Conscience Party (NCP) in the last election. In this interview with Ifeoma Ononye, he bares his mind on the supposed dialogue with Boko Haram.The Federal Government has accepted to dialogue with the terrorist sect, Boko Haram, because of the abducted Chibok girls, do you think there is need for this dialogue?
The Constitution of Nigeria is very clear that the primary purpose of government is the security and welfare of the people. The government must on all issues, seek to improve the security and welfare of the people. The war against Boko Haram has been on for a few years and we had expected that our armed forces will defeat Boko Haram in a few months with the State of Emergency that was proclaimed by the Federal Government. But our ineffective Federal Government delayed necessary actions till a few months before the 2015 general elections when a serious offensive against Boko Haram was conducted by our military forces.
Given the size of the Nigerian armed forces, the size of our economy and the record of performance of our military forces, our expectation that our military forces will defeat Boko Haram in a few months was very logical. Boko Haram, a rag-tag band of less than 5,000 deranged terrorist cowards stood no chance against the might of oil-rich Nigeria with a population of over 200 million people with over a million trained military and paramilitary armed forces personnel. Paradoxically, Boko Haram grew stronger and claimed Nigerian territory while our capable military forces complained of inadequate weapons and poor welfare conditions. The weaknesses in the Nigerian military caused by corruption have become very obvious to all. Boko Haram still controls about five local government areas in the North-East of Nigeria today.
Boko Haram could have been nipped in the bud when its members started organising attacks on public institutions and banks if we had an effective domestic intelligence agency. But it was not.
Many security experts have said that Boko Haram have nothing to negotiate with because they are fighting for an ideology that is impossible to achieve, do you think the dialogue will yield positive result?
The appropriate response to the insurgence of Boko Haram in the current circumstances is an effective military campaign, combined with improved intelligence results and other strategic actions with the popular support of all Nigerian Muslims, Christians and Pagans. Since the current political leaders are unable to organise this, it may be expedient though shameful and inappropriate to negotiate with Boko Haram to get our Chibok girls back first and then re-plan and re-start to clear the entire mess.
We cannot be proud of a weak country that negotiates with rag-tag terrorist cowards that have killed so many innocent citizens including women and children. It is a sign of weakness to negotiate with Boko Haram. But it is part of the price we must pay for allowing illegitimate and corrupt impostors to take over the political leadership of Nigeria.
How do you think the Federal Government will determine that they are negotiating with the right people, having in mind that they were duped in the past?
The shameful and inappropriate negotiation must be conducted with utmost care and tact. The previous attempt to negotiate became a scandal after we discovered that we had been fooled by fake representatives of Boko Haram. We must be careful not to give any significant concessions to these terrorists. We must get all our girls back from them before we can allow any trivial concessions we may make to them. Ultimately, with or without negotiations, our objective must be to disband Boko Haram. It is inappropriate and shameful to negotiate with Boko Haram but since our ineffective rulers have been unable to provide the appropriate leadership to deal with Boko Haram, we may be compelled by our shameful present circumstances to negotiate with Boko Haram to get our Chibok girls back. However, this we must do with utmost tact.
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