Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Re: Boko Haram – Orji Kalu as unsung hero by Benjamin Obrota

“I believe that Nigeria has grown beyond the stage where it would hire a mercenary to discuss on its behalf.”

I read with great interest Emmanuel Onwubiko’s treatise on Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, former Abia State governor, published by PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday, November 14. The piece made an interesting reading as it further exposed its sponsor for what he truly is, a mercenary.

It is on record that thousands of Nigerians have lost their lives in the mayhem perpetrated by the dreaded Boko Haram religious terrorists in Northern Nigeria, where Sundays have been turned by the hoodlums into days of mourning rather than praise giving. Millions of naira have been lost to the activities of these terrorists who have no direction in their requests.

It is for this reason that patriots like General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and Prof. Wole Soyinka have spurned any negotiation with the group.

On his part, Buhari rejected a request by Boko Haram to negotiate on their behalf with the Federal Government because he said he did not know any leaders of the group, and does not approve of their modus operandi. He maintained that any group that prides itself in murdering innocent civilians all over the North was not worth discussing with.

Soyinka, on the other hand, believes that there is no basis legally or morally for the Nigerian government to dialogue with persons responsible for the killings of thousands of innocent Nigerians. In the Nobel laureate’s words: “It is preposterous for anyone to seek to impose his brand of religious beliefs or ideology on the other members of the society.”

One of Boko Haram’s conditions for peace is that President Goodluck Jonathan denounces his Christian faith and convert to Islam. They also want all educational institutions in the country shut and their premises turned to hospitals or Islamic centres. So ridiculous!

It is to such a group that Kalu seeks to enter dialogue with on behalf of the Federal Government, and Onwubiko is praising him to high heavens for accepting to mediate. Buhari has advised the group to purge itself of the devil within it, while Soyinka has advised that negotiating with mass murderers would not end the cycle of violence tearing at the country.

It is apparent from the foregoing that any Nigerian who seeks to negotiate with Boko Haram is not doing so out of patriotic zeal or altruistic value, but (out) of some expected personal economic gains he envisages he will reap from the god forsaken deal.

Kalu’s touted qualification to mediate is the fact that he grew up in Maiduguri, the current hot bed of Boko Haram insurgency. But Nigerians will recall that in the early 1980s, an expelled ex-student of the University of Maiduguri made a fanfare of appearance at the school’s launch where he claimed to have donated N250 thousand. A princely sum in those days, the youngman got instant recognition all over the country for venturing to the rescue of his alma mater.

But, the new acclaim soon turned to notoriety when it was found that the carton in which the money was loaded contained only N20 thousand cash laid on top of the pack while pieces of paper cut to size were placed at the bottom. That youngman of the 1980s is Onwubiko’s proposed chief negotiator of today, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu.

Only recently, the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) sought to contest the governorship position in several states in the country. Sadly, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed to place the party on the ballot in Kano and Zamfara States. The gubernatorial candidates of PPA in these two states went to court. There are precedents in several states where governorship victories were overturned on this account.

As then chairman of the Board of Trustees of PPA, Kalu volunteered to intervene. Several meetings with the incumbent governors later saw the maverick politician telling the PPA gubernatorial candidates “to forgive and forget.” It turned out later he had enriched himself with millions of dollars to the detriment of the party he claimed to have formed, by “negotiating” with the incumbent governors of the two states concerned.

Is this the type of character Onwubiko wants to represent Nigeria in negotiations with Boko Haram? I believe that Nigeria has grown beyond the stage where it would hire a mercenary to discuss on its behalf.

Moreover, no country in the world discusses with terrorist groups or kidnappers. Nigeria cannot be an exception.

Ogbuefi Benjamin Obrota

Zonal Vice-Chairman

Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA)

Asaba, Delta State