President Jonathan, through his Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe had on Tuesday challenged General Buhari to persuade members of the sect to accept dialogue as a means of ending the orgy of violence in the North.
General Buhari, who apparently was angered by the Presidency’s attempt to link him with the sect, asked Jonathan to leave him alone and find ways of resolving the Boko Haram crisis, which he said, was borne out of the failure of his government.
Buhari, who fired back at Jonathan through the National Publicity Secretary of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, noted that it was wrong for the Presidency to accuse him of not calling Boko Haram to order when he did not have any relationship with the members.
He also faulted Okupe, for referring to Buhari’s presidential ambition as inordinate, saying that the attack was ill-motivated.
Fashakin said: “It is unfortunate that a presidential aide referred to the legitimate desire of a statesman as inordinate. Away from the uncouth posturing of Dr Okupe, it is apparent that this fellow is conflating two unrelated issues and scenarios.
“If the people that initiated and executed the Niger Delta problem decided to resolve it, what can anyone do about it? The Niger Delta problem is totally different from the Boko Haram palaver.
“General Muhammadu Buhari has consistently asserted that the political Boko Haram, the most virulent variant of the menace, is a creation of Jonathan’s regime. So why should a Buhari that did not understand the genesis of the funding and operation of this lethal unit of the PDP-led federal government, now join in appeasing them?
“That explains why the Jonathan regime cannot talk about amnesty for Boko Haram because it is akin to appeasing self. As a party, we strongly advise the Federal Government to come clean to the Nigerian people. The political Boko Haram is all about the Jonathan regime and no amount of carefully-woven spin can hoodwink discerning Nigerians,” the CPC spokesman declared.
Buhari’s statement followed Tuesday’s call on him by Jonathan’s spokesman, Doyin Okupe, to lead the talks with Boko Haram to lay down their arms and embrace dialogue as a means of ending the raging violence in the north, which has claimed many lives and property.
Okupe had also asked Buhari to emulate the role Jonathan played by going to meet militants in their vast hideouts in the Niger Delta to plead with them to lay down their arms and accept the general amnesty granted by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua on June 25, 2009.
Meanwhile, reactions have trailed the statements issued by both the Presidency and General Buhari.
It’s a ridiculous request —Musa
A Second Republic Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa described the president’s appeal to Buhari as an insult. The former governor said “this is an insult. How can Buhari ask Boko Haram to cease fire? Is Buhari responsible for Boko Haram? Is he the president of Nigeria? This is a ridiculous request and it amounts to some kind of insult. A security issue of this magnitude is being turned into a light matter.”
Request meant to entrap Buhari—Sagay
For constitutional lawyer, Professor Itse Sagay, the request by the president is meant to entrap the former Head of State. Sagay, said: “Is Buhari their representative? Is he the one sponsoring them? I don’t think that is fair. There is no indication whatsoever that Buhari has a link with Boko Haram. The request is meant to entrap Buhari and so, I don’t think it is fair.”
Jonathan should be tolerant— Afenifere
On its part, Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere enjoined President Jonathan to be tolerant. In a telephone chat with Vanguard, National Publicity Secretary of the group, Mr Yinka Odumakin said: “It is for us to appreciate that the nation is faced with a serious crisis that may consume everybody and therefore, we must find a way to solve the problem.
Jonathan should vacate office if… — Junaid Mohammed
In his reaction to the face-off, SecondRepublic lawmaker, Dr Junaid Mohammed, said if the President cannot stand the heat, he should vacate office. Mohammed, in a telephone chat said: “As far as I am concerned, the truth should not be subordinate to anybody’s view and people must surely express their views and opinion on daily basis. So if Mr President cannot stand the heat, he should throw in the towel because whether he likes it or not, he should expect to be criticised.”
Boko Haram not Jonathan’s creation –Austin Opara
Former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Austin Opara said: “It is wrong for General Buhari to say Boko Haram is the creation of President Jonathan’s government. It is absolutely wrong for Buhari to accuse Mr President because we all live in this country and we all know Boko Haram did not start with this government.”
FG will offer amnesty if… — Maku
In a related development, Minister of Information Mr. Labaran Maku said the amnesty being canvassed for Boko Haram could only be considered when the group opens up for dialogue and negotiation, insisting that amnesty could not be the first option when nobody had come out to discuss with the Federal Government.
Mr. Maku who stated this in a live programme on Channels Television explained that amnesty is usually an outcome of discussions and negotiations, whereby those being offered amnesty would accept it in principle with conditions attached.
According to him, nowhere in the world was amnesty offered unconditionally to a group that did not even come out to negotiate with the government.
“Amnesty could be part of the solution but can only come out of the process of dialogue and negotiations but offering it unconditionally is not known. How does the President and Commander-in-Chief announce amnesty without prior conversation, without prior negotiation, without agreeing on anything, what it would mean is that the President has given up and that’s a complete abdication,” he said.
He called on Nigerians, especially the political class not to politicize the call for amnesty but to treat it as an urgent matter of national security.
“Nigerians should not over-politicize this issue. People continue to compare it with the Niger-Delta. We must not forget that amnesty in the Niger-Delta came after a series of discussions and negotiations led by leaders of the Niger Delta Region and the combatants in the creeks.
“It was after negotiations reached a certain point and there were commitments that the issue of amnesty came up. It was not just offered without condition and negotiation, so I think politicians should allow this matter to be taken as a security and national issue and those looking for votes in 2015 should not unduly over-politicize this issue of amnesty,” he stated.