The committee has been charged to come with solutions to the Boko-Haram menace within three months.
President Goodluck Jonathan has inaugurated the Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North with a mandate to proffer solution to the Boko Haram crisis in three months.
Mr. Jonathan also inaugurated a 17-member committee on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons during a short ceremony at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The president tasked members of the committee on Boko Haram to use their wealth of experience to find lasting solution to the insurgency.
“All Nigerians are expecting this committee to perform magic and we pray that Allah should give you the wisdom to do so. Because, without peace we cannot develop no matter how committed we are; without peace we cannot progress as a nation.
“The federal government is ready to work with you and any other organization to make sure that these excesses of Boko Haram is brought to an end.
“So that as a nation, we should face issues of development not issues of conflict, issues of peace not issues of disaster,’’ he said.
The President said the committee is expected to establish a link and open up dialogue with the members of the Boko Haram, develop the framework through which disarmament will take place and work out a sustainable option that will lead to the granting of amnesty.
He also said the committee is expected to develop a comprehensive support programme for the victims of the excesses of the group as well as come up with suggestions on how to address the underlining causes of the crisis to ensure that the country would not face a similar trend in the future.
He urged security agencies to be cautious in their mode of operations while trying to bring peace to the Nation, so as not to cause destruction of the same country they seek to protect.
The President was speaking in reference to the bloodbath over the weekend, when Baga, a border town in Borno State, was razed as a Nigeria-led multinational force and suspected members of Boko Haram engaged in a shootout which left no fewer than 185 persons dead.
“In attempting to bring peace to any part of the country, you should do so in a manner that will not bring destruction to the third party” he said adding that the issue of the Baga killings was being investigated.
“I will tell Nigerians and indeed members of the international community that government will take steps to make sure that if errors are made that such people are cautioned and are treated in line with our own laws and regulations,” he said.
The President who re-assured of his administration’s commitment to address the security challenges and bring development to the country, called on Nigerians to show patriotism to the nation and assist the committee by offering useful information that would assist them to succeed.
Mr. Jonathan said that the setting up of the second committee was in keeping with his pledge that Nigeria will work with the United Nations, UN, and other countries to stem the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
According to him the proliferation of small arms and light weapon was threatening the security and stability in Nigeria and other developing nations.
“Continental cross-border proliferation of arms is not only a threat to our nation’s security and stability; it has also fuelled conflicts in different parts of Africa.
“The small arms and light weapons committee should establish links and cooperation with similar institutions and other agencies that can help to build capacity, enhance information sharing and develop multi-level international support relationship as well as strengthen regional cooperation,’’ he said.
He called on the UN to come out with comprehensive approach to the control of small arms and light weapons noting that the effects in Africa are worse than the effect of nuclear weapons.
The President thanked members of the two committees for accepting to serve even when many of them were not contacted before they were made members.
The committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons is a standing committee and can be dissolved anytime by government.
Responding to the President’s speech, the Chairman, Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North, Minister of Special Duties, Kabiru Traci, said the inauguration of the committee has provided a veritable platform for “genuine and sincere resolution of the crisis situation in the north”.
Assuring the President of the preparedness of the committee to bring their diverse experiences, education, professionalism, tactics, skills and above all integrity to bear, he said “we are not under any illusion, sir. That this will be an easy task, but we are resolute, we feel challenged by this enormous responsibility that has been given to us.
“I want to assure you Sir and indeed all Nigerians that in doing and carrying out this assignment, we are not going to bring any presumptions, conclusions or assumptions, we are coming with open mind. I, therefore, want to appeal to all Nigerians to assist us with useful information to enable us carry out our assignment,” he said.
He appealed to Nigerians to show understanding and patience “even as the situation is seemingly intractable”.
Also speaking on behalf of his committee, the Chairman of the Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Emmanuel Image, assured the president that the committee will work in accordance with his mandate tirelessly and round the clock.
“We will be considering a wide range of policy solutions to address the challenges posed by small arms and light weapons.
The fight against small arms and light weapons is indeed a global concern, the committee will act within coherent, legal and policy guidelines including the ECOWAS convention on small arms and light weapons, the AU Bamako declaration as well as the UN programme for action on small arms and light weapons,” he said.
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