Wednesday 9 January 2013

Boko Haram: Let Obasanjo lead negotiation, Esele urges Jonathan

President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Peter Esele, on Wednesday said that President Goodluck Jonathan should appoint former President Olusegun Obasanjo to lead the ‘carrot approach’ aspect, which is the negotiation with extremist Islamist group, Boko Haram.
Also, eminent lawyer, Mike Ahamba (SAN), has advised Obsanjo to meet Jonathan to discuss directly with him modalities for effecting the ‘carrot and stick approach’ which he (Obasanjo) claimed was the best towards resolving the Boko Haram insurgency.
Obasanjo, in a CNN interview on Tuesday, had said that Jonathan administration had not been reaching out enough to Boko Haram, and canvassed what he described as a ‘carrot-and-stick’ strategy to address the sect’s menace.
He also said Jonathan had been applying less of dialogue and more of force in solving the Boko Haram issue.
“To deal with a group like that, you need a carrot and stick. The carrot is finding out how to reach out to them.
“When you try to reach out to them and they are not amenable to being reached out to, you have to use the stick,” the ex-President had said.
But Esele, while sharing Obasanjo’s view, said the approach is a welcome development if it will achieve the aim of lasting peace and security in Nigeria.
Speaking further, he said Jonathan should appoint Obasanjo to lead the negotiation with Boko Haram, but should also adopt the stick method if the group is unwilling to negotiate.
According to Esele, Obasanjo, as a man of peace, will be glad to accept the offer, especially when it is a call to public service and one that may lead to lasting peace, which has eluded Nigeria in recent times.
“It is our hope that we should have lasting peace in Nigeria and we believe that there should be somebody to talk to Boko Haram.
“I think I will make things easy if I was the president, I will just say, ‘Obasanjo, you now be the one to lead the negotiation’, which is the carrot approach, while the president will now be the one in charge of the stick method.
“He should get himself involved in the negotiation and report to the president. I think that Obasanjo himself will want peace as a former president.
“And once the president of a country calls on anyone to serve the nation, there is nobody who will not want to heed the call”, he said.
Ahamba noted that as former president and leading member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Obasanjo was strategically placed to counsel Jonathan on security approaches, and other issues of national importance.
Ahamba argued that it was unacceptable for the former leader to choose the media to express his opinion on such a serious national issue when he could directly pass it to Jonathan.
He insisted that Obasanjo should not merely identify an approach to the teething issue but should also discuss the modalities in detail.
Some critics have claimed that Obasanjo’s latest view on government’s approach to Boko Haram was contradictory, remarking that it was different from his earlier stance, and also pointing out that he himself never applied the ‘Carrot and Stick’ approach to insurgencies when he called the shots in Abuja between 1999 and 2007.

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