Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Boko Haram Elements Reach Out for Dialogue - CCC

The Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC) which is an independent Non-Governmental Organisation, has revealed that some Boko Haram elements have approached it for dialogue as a way of ending the seeming intractable insurgency in parts of the country.

The Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC) which is an independent Non-Governmental Organisation, has revealed that some Boko Haram elements have approached it for dialogue as a way of ending the seeming intractable insurgency in parts of the country.Boko Haram membersSuspected Boko Haram members
 
Executive Secretary of the Centre, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas (retired) who addressed the press on sundry national issues including terrorism, cattle rustling, National Assembly crisis, pipeline vandalism, kidnapping, armed robbery, Radio Biafra among others said he and his team were already in the process of facilitating a meeting with relevant government agencies.
 
While expressing support for the declaration by President Muhammadu Buhari that the Federal Government was willing to dialogue with genuine leaders of the terrorist group, Anas said the new position has become imperative in view of the fact that military option alone has failed to resolve the issue.
 
“The Centre however suggests that such dialogue should be done with every sense of caution and responsibility bearing in mind the previous disappointments that attended attempts at negotiations.
 
“Considering the unspeakable atrocities which the group has visited on Nigeria and Nigerians, this option is no doubt a hard sell. However, the recent statement by President Muhammadu Buhari on government’s readiness to negotiate with credible members of the sect has rekindled the hope for dialogue.
 
“The Centre views this gesture as good. It has opened a window of opportunity for dialogue for those insurgents that are willing and ready to lay down their arms. This position is predicated on calls made to this Centre by some members of the Boko Haram requesting for genuine and comprehensive dialogue that could lead to hundreds of them coming out to renounce their membership.
 
“Nevertheless, the Centre will continue to support and encourage all efforts towards bringing insurgency to an end in our country,” he stated.
 
On the lingering National Assembly crisis, the CCC appealed to all the contending individuals, groups or parties to ‘shield their swords’ in the national interest “knowing how far-reaching and negative effect political crisis of this dimension could continue to be in inflaming passions, creating divisive tendencies, and ultimately translating in crisis.”
 
He then urged the legislators to take the lead of President Buhari and slash their remunerations to demonstrate to Nigerians that they are also sympathetic to the current financial challenges of the nation and ready to make sacrifices to make Nigeria better.
 
On non-payment of salaries by some state governments, the Centre declared “nothing breeds crisis more than the injustice of workers being denied wages and entitlements. Public servants who toil for governments and the nation deserve salaries at the end of the month. Failure to guarantee this basic obligation on the part of any state government is a sure recipe for crisis, i.e. crisis at home, schools, at the workplace and generally in the society.”
 
He then implored the affected states and indeed other states to be more ingenious and judicious in handling their finances to avoid potential source of crisis in the future.
 
Speaking on the issue of cattle the CCC boss said it has reached an alarming proportion as it always precipitates bloody clashes leaving scores of people dead in different parts of the country especially in Taraba, Plateau, Benue, Kaduna, Nassarawa, Niger and other states over grazing rights.
 
“This recurring but often violent crisis perpetrated by unknown hoodlums has continued to traumatize innocent and enterprising Nigerians engaged in cattle rearing and farming.
 
“The crisis is perhaps accentuated by the economic hardship and joblessness. The Centre has received hundreds of calls from several parts of the north over this issue. Instances abound where hoodlums send letters to cattle breeders especially Fulanis and farmers to pay hundreds of thousands of naira or even millions as ransom to avert attacks.”
 
He commended Governor Nasir El-Rufai for his efforts in this regard and in setting up the ‘Cattle Initiative’ to fight against cattle rustlers in Kaduna, which has already recorded huge successes with the recent recovery of over 2000 cows in different locations in Kaduna state.
 
“The Centre is calling on governments at all levels to ensure every action aimed at finding lasting solution are put in place to enable the return of normalcy in the nooks and corners of our communities.
 
“The Centre believes that more discussions and legislative actions at the states and National Assembly levels are needed now on the propriety or otherwise of creating or delineating grazing areas in the country.”
 
The CCC said it was agitated by recent attempts to resurrect the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) with the arrow head being Mr. Government Tompolo along with some Ijaw youth.
“Since the inception of the Amnesty Programme billions of Naira has been and is still being spent to address the Youth challenges of the region”, it noted and commended the appointment of Brigadier General Peter Boroh (Rtd) which it said will  energize the amnesty programme.
 
“If there are genuine grievances with the Amnesty programme, legitimate avenues and appropriate channels should be exploited. However, the full wrath of the law should be brought to bear on any individual or group that wants to engineer crisis aimed at militating against the socio-economic development of our dear nation.”
 
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The Full Text of the Address
 
CENTRE FOR CRISIS COMMUNICATION
Media Briefing Address by Executive Secretary Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC), Air Commodore Yusuf Anas  on Crisis Issues in the Nation, held in the Centre on 4 August 2015
 
You are welcome to the Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC) for this all important media briefing. You will recall that during our last interaction organized and hosted by I-Nigeria Initiative, we took the opportunity to formally introduce the Centre and its activities to you. We also informed you that in line with the mandate of the Centre, it will be hosting periodic media briefing on issues bordering on crisis with the aim of keeping Nigerians informed through you.
 
Today’s briefing therefore is in relation with what the Centre perceives as crisis or potential crisis in our polity. The Centre appreciates the indispensable role of the media in crisis communication and therefore seeks your partnership in helping to set the agenda in order to continue building a safe, virile and democratic nation.  
 
Gentlemen of the press, a key aspect of the Centre’s operation is the painstaking monitoring and evaluation of the socio-economic and political dynamics in our society with a view to identifying issues that are breeding or could possibly breed conflict or even escalate into a crisis situation. The Centre, through its early warning signal initiative, proffers proactive suggestions aimed at averting identified potential crisis or suggests ways of mitigating the effects of a crisis situation. The Centre therefore notes the following issues in our national polity that are crisis prone and which require attention.
 
a. National Assembly Crisis:
The Centre has noted the considerable progress made at arriving at an amicable resolution of the National Assembly leadership crisis. However, the Centre is aware of underground moves to still truncate the current compromises that were reached.
 
Knowing how far-reaching and negative effect political crisis of this dimension could continue to be in inflaming passions, creating divisive tendencies, and ultimately translating in crisis, we are appealing to all the contending individuals, groups or parties to ‘shield their swords’ in the national interest.
 The Centre wants to use this opportunity to also call on our dear members of the National Assembly to similarly emulate the gesture of Mr. President by also slashing their salaries to demonstrate to Nigerians that they are also sympathetic to the current financial challenges of the nation and ready to make sacrifices to make Nigeria better.
 
b. Non Payment of Salaries by Some State Governments
Nothing breeds crisis more than the injustice of workers being denied wages and entitlements. Public servants who toil for governments and the nation deserve salaries at the end of the month. Failure to guarantee this basic obligation on the part of any state government is a sure recipe for crisis, i.e. crisis at home, schools, at the workplace and generally in the society.
While several states embark on grandiose projects that will bring personal returns to a few individuals, legitimate monthly salaries of hardworking people to cater for their families were often denied as result of what could be termed “profligacy”.  The Centre therefore believes that this ugly development is unwarranted, no matter the excuses advanced by the affected states.
 
However, the CCC notes with great relief and deep appreciation the intervention by the Federal Government to bail out the effected states to enable them fulfills their statutory obligation to their workers. The Centre therefore is imploring the affected states and indeed other states to be more ingenious and judicious in handling their finances to avoid potential source of crisis in the future.
 
c. Radio Biafra
 Another worrisome development noted by this Centre is the issue of the Radio Biafra. The Centre condemns in very strong terms the activities of the pirate radio station. This illegal station which was transmitting from unknown location is, from all intent and purposes, on a mission to orchestrate disunity in the country.
 
Radio stations of this nature that broadcast hate messages and anti-government sentiments are quite capable of instigating dissent, inflaming the polity and ultimately cause serious crisis in the country.  The Rwandan case which led to unwholesome destruction of hundreds of thousands of lives and property is instructive. Although the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) recently announced the successful jamming of the radio station, efforts must be doubled to take their online contents off the internet as soon as possible.
 
d. Pipeline Vandalism
The Centre condemns in its entirety the recurring incidence of pipeline vandalism and the attendant oil spillages being carried out by unscrupulous economic saboteurs. Apart from the disruption of normal oil flow across the pipelines and loss in revenue, this economic crime has on many occasions resulted in deadly fire and oil spillage that have claimed many lives and damage to the environment in several communities.
 
Despite the dangers inherent in the pipeline vandalism, the crime still persists. The nation witnessed few weeks ago, no fewer than a hundred lives burnt to death in Arepo, Ogun State following a fire at the scene of a vandalised pipeline where people were scooping petroleum products.
 
Inspite of that colossal human loss, a group of area boys holding monopoly of violence in the guise of guarding the pipelines across some regions of this country, some of your colleagues, photojournalists namely Solomon Adeola of The Nation Newspaper and Omoniyi  Aiyedun of The Sun Newspaper were captured and tortured  by these vandals when they went to cover the circumstances surrounding the incident. The Centre is aware that securing the entire length and breadth of the nation’s oil pipelines is certainly a daunting task.
 
CCC therefore wants to reiterate greater need for the protection of the nation’s critical infrastructure through a more robust multi-agency collaboration and synergy.  This will go a long way in ensuring crude oil get to the refineries for refining and subsequent supply to Nigerians to ameliorate the current fuel shortage.
 
e. Cattle Rustling and Herdsmen/ Farmers Clashes
Cattle rustling and destruction of farm lands in recent times have reached an alarming proportion which always precipitates bloody clashes leaving scores of people dead in different parts of the country especially in the North. This recurring but often violent crisis perpetrated by unknown hoodlums has continued to traumatize innocent and enterprising Nigerians engaged in cattle rearing and farming.
 
The crisis is perhaps accentuated by the economic hardship and joblessness. The Centre has received hundreds of calls from several parts of the north over this issue. Instances abound where hoodlums send letters to cattle breeders especially Fulanis and farmers to pay hundreds of thousands of naira or even millions as ransom to avert attacks.
 
In some cases, the miscreants visit villages and drop bags with a caveat to be filled with money, failure which risks attacks leading to maiming and deaths of innocent people in the communities. In this regard, the Centre wants to commend the recent joint efforts by the six state governors of the North-West for collaborating to put an end to this despicable crime.
 
We particularly commend Governor Nasir El-Rufai for his efforts in this regard and in setting up the ‘Cattle Initiative’ to fight against cattle rustlers in Kaduna. The initiative has already recorded huge successes with the recent recovery of over 2000 cows in different locations in Kaduna state.
 
Similarly,  Fulani herdsmen and farmers clashes in Taraba, Plateau, Benue, Kaduna, Nassarawa, Niger and other states over grazing rights has reached a crescendo where affirmative action and solution must be found.  We have received numerous distress calls and emails over this issue from several quarters where the crisis has led to communal clashes and deaths.  The Centre is calling on governments at all levels to ensure every action aimed at finding lasting solution are put in place to enable the return of normalcy in the nooks and corners of our communities.
 
The Centre believes that more discussions and legislative actions at the states and National Assembly levels are needed now on the propriety or otherwise of creating or delineating grazing areas in the country.
 
f. Resurrection of MEND
The Centre is equally agitated by the recent moves to resurrect the once rested Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND). It was purported to have planned a meeting of its old brigade members on 25 July 2015 in Yenagoa. The arrow head of the meeting is no other person than Mr. Tompolo along with some Ijaw youth.
 
Although Mr Tompolo denied attempting to resurrect the rested militant group, the last may not have been heard on the issue. Nigerians will recall how this deadly group almost crippled the nation’s oil production from 2005 until when Late President Yaradua initiated the Amnesty Programme. Since the inception of the Amnesty Programme billions of Naira has been and is still being spent to address the Youth challenges of the region.
 
The appointment of Brigadier General Peter Boroh (Rtd) will no doubt energise the programme. If there are genuine grievances with the Amnesty programme, legitimate avenues and appropriate channels should be exploited. However, the full wrath of the law should be brought to bear on any individual or group that wants to engineer crisis aimed at militating against the socio-economic development of our dear nation.
 
g. Dialogue with Boko Haram
The Boko Haram challenges have continued to become an intractable crisis situation to our nation. Recently,  Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno Stated that “ more than three million innocent Nigerians from Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and parts of Nigeria live in deep agony having lost their sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, relations and neighbors after brutally being attacked by members of the Boko Haram”. Indeed, many of our citizens are now orphans, widows and forced to become refugees within and outside our country.
 
Over the years, government has been pursuing the terrorists with the aim at ending the insurgency. Although successes have been recorded in degrading the volatility of the terrorists, they are far from being defeated.
 
Some prominent Nigerians have in recent times canvassed the idea of dialogue with the Boko Haram. The option of dialogue, according to them, at the moment provides a leeway of not only safely rescuing the abducted Chibok school girls alive, but also possibly bringing to an end the orgy of violence unleashed on innocent Nigerians by the group.
 
Considering the unspeakable atrocities which the group has visited on Nigeria and Nigerians, this option is no doubt a hard sell. However, the recent statement by President Muhammadu Buhari on government’s readiness to negotiate with credible members of the sect has rekindled the hope for dialogue.
 
The Centre views this gesture as good. It has opened a window of opportunity for dialogue for those insurgents that are willing and ready to lay down their arms. This position is predicated on calls made to this Centre by some members of the Boko Haram requesting for genuine and comprehensive dialogue that could lead to hundreds of them coming out to renounce their membership.
 
The Centre however suggests that such dialogue should be done with every sense of caution and responsibility bearing in mind the previous disappointments that attended attempts at negotiations. Nevertheless, the Centre will continue to support and encourage all efforts towards bringing insurgency to an end in our country.
 
h. Kidnappings and Armed Banditry
The Centre is also gravely concerned about the spate of kidnappings for ransom and armed banditry across the country. These are also serious crimes committed against our citizens. A case in point is the recent kidnap of a 92 year old ruler of Tombia Community in Bayelsa State by unknown gunmen. Similar cases abound in several parts of the nation.
 
In the same vein, armed robbery and ritual killings have continued to afflict several individuals and communities across Nigeria. This unacceptable situation should not be allowed to continue unabated. Although our security agencies are doing their best, we want to urge them to collaborate more to ensure perpetrators are apprehended and speedily brought to justice.  
 
h. On a Positive Note
The Centre notes recent positive change of guard in the nation’s armed forces and some security agencies by the President. It signifies a new beginning for the organisations to restrategise on their service delivery to the nation.  However, it must be reiterated that inter-agency collaboration should be paramount to enhance effective and efficient discharged of their constitutional responsibilities.
 
CONCLUSION
In conclusion, the Centre believes no nation is immune to crisis. However, what distinguishes one nation from the other is how crisis are resolved with a view to ensuring the socio-economic and political development of the country continues to be enhanced.
 
Issues bordering on crisis such as those in the NASS, pipeline vandalism, Boko Haram, MEND, radio Biafra among others which have attracted the attention of CCC should be carefully addressed. The Centre urges Nigerians to remain steadfast and join hands to build a peaceful, democratic, transparent and progressive nation that we all desire. Thank you. 
 
Air Commodore Yusuf Anas (Rtd)
Executive Secretary
Centre for Crisis Communication
Abuja
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