Ireland’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Patrick Fay, said dialogue with the extremist Boko Haram sect remained the most potent tool in quelling the activities of the group which has taken its toll on hapless citizens of Nigeria.
Mr Fay stated this in Yola while presenting a paper titled “The Peace Agreement in Northern Ireland – Lessons for Nigeria?” at the Diplomats’Lecture Series organized by the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola.
The diplomat, who advised the federal government to embrace dialogue with the sect, however gave his audience a caveat that the views espoused in his paper were his personal views and not ” necessarily the view of his government.”
He urged the Nigerian government to take a cue from the Ireland peace agreement to make “necessary compromises where possible” with the Boko Haram sect, as “antidote” to the increasing spate of violence in the country.
Mr. Fay, who lamented that the 30-year Irish crisis that raged between 1969 and 1998 saw the country losing1,121 soldiers and policemen, 1,838 civilians and several hundred thousands in destruction, however said the Nigerian government could stem the destruction and carnage by coming to the discussion table while it tries to figure out a way to attaining “a lasting peace” in some of the troubled states.
Referring again to the Irish example, the ambassador noted that Nigeria did not have to take a tortuously long time to address its own challenge unlike Northern and Southern Ireland which only agreed to come to the negotiation table after 30 years of escalating tension.
“It took Ireland 30 years to realize peace. Peace is possible, a lot of risks were taken by a lot of people. If it takes Nigeria that long to attain peace it’s because they chose to go through it; you must identify what the issues are then compromise, do not assume you know what they want – when you get part of what you want and I get part of what I wantwe can strike a deal,” Mr. Fay stated.
He also pointed out that “there is no intractable situation and violence does not solve the problem; violence from both sides has never worked and different people can live together but there is a need for strong leadership to achieve serenity.”
“Both sides were paranoid and felt they were under siege, we called it ‘Paranocracy’, which gave rise to initiating a dialogue framework document which provides respect for human rights, weapons decommissioning and policing and justice”.
He therefore admonished the Federal Government to learn from the experiences of other countries adding, “government at all levels have to be prepared to talk and ensure that the culture of impunity does not sneak in; yes some people may continue with the violence and splinter groups may arise, it will take some time to quell the situation but it will happen if you are committed to it,” he stated.