The chairman of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North, Mr. Kabiru Turaki (SAN), on Tuesday said the continued violence being recorded in Baga, Bama and other parts of the North had not in any way affected the committee’s work.
Turaki spoke with State House correspondents shortly after leading other members of the committee to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan in continuation of their consultation with critical stakeholders on the violence in parts of the country.He also said the latest video released by the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, where its leader, Sheikh Abubakar Shekau, said the sect would continue to hold women, young girls and ladies hostage until relatives of members in custody were released, was not an indication that the group was disposed to dialogue.
While describing the continued violence as multi-dimensional,Turaki, who is also the Minister of Special Duties, said the committee had not considered the issue since it was not affecting its activities.
“The past events (continued violence) have not in any way derailed our programme. They have not derailed our resoluteness, resolution and desire and intention to make sure we get to the root of this problem. We have not been affected by recent happenings,” he said.
Turaki said having watched the Boko Haram’s latest video, his opinion was that what Shekau said was not different from what the committee was doing.
He said there was no indication that the sect was opposed to dialogue.
He said, “I have watched the video clip and from my own understanding I think what Imam Abubakar Shekau is saying is not different from what the committee is doing.
“There is no indication to say that they are not amenable to settlement or dialogue. Now, Jama’a people are people who believe that they will live by the teachings of the Prophet as enshrined in the provisions of the Qur’an.
“Now, the Qur’an specifically says that sulh (dialogue, negotiation or settlement), has a lot values, and in fact Muslims are encouraged to enter into dialogue.
“When we sit down to negotiate, it does not mean that everybody will get or must get what they wants. There would be give-and-take at the end of day. The most fundamental thing is, from my own understanding, that the Jama’a people are not averse to dialogue and settlement of the dispute, sitting down to discuss.”
On when to meet Shekau as part of the consultation, Turaki said it would not be in the committee’s interest to disclose its modus operandi.
He said he would not want those they were dialoguing with to see it as if they were being betrayed.
The minister recalled that earlier attempts at negotiating with the sect were truncated by the public utterances of the actors.
He said the committee had resolved to be secretive as possible not because they did not want members of the public to know about what they were doing but because they felt that they had not reached the level where members of the public would be given full details.
Turaki said having met the President, the committee members would proceed to state governors, traditional rulers, leaders of the frontline states and the clergy.
He added that they would visit and inspect the epicentres of the crisis and visit the victims, as Victims Support Programme was part of their responsibility and recommendations.
He said, “What we have been doing now is laying the foundation, and unless we lay a strong foundation, you may have problems. I am satisfied and convinced that we are still on course and that we are still working within the time frame. What will happen tomorrow, I do not know but for now I know we are on course. We are on target.”
About 24 of the 26 members of the committee attended the meeting with the President, which started at about 10.10am.
Those who attended the meeting alongside the President were his Chief of Staff, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim; National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.); as well as presidential aides like Mr. Oronto Douglas and Dr. Reuben Abati.
The committee, which was inaugurated on August 24 has three months to carry out its assignments that include developing a framework for the granting of amnesty; setting up of a framework through which disarmament could take place within a 60-day time frame; developing of a comprehensive victims’ support programme; and developing mechanisms to address the underlying causes of insurgencies that will help to prevent future occurrences.