By Abdulmumin Giwa
It is my own understanding that there are two types of negotiations that can take place between the government and the terrorists. Firstly, there is that aspect of negotiation that leads to giving the bandits or terrorist amnesty. Either by meeting to some of their demands, if their activities are ideological, or by offering them a purposeful life outside what they have embraced of terrorism.
Secondly, there is the issue of negotiating to save the lives of innocent victims kidnapped by the terrorists. In this case, even leading countries across the world, like US, UK France engage in negotiations to save the lives of their people. The media have reported that France has paid ransom to Boko Haram to save their citizen, UK and US have at different times paid ransom to Alqaeda to save the lives of their citizens. They engaged in negotiations in the process.
As Gov Elrufai says he will not negotiate with terrorists, which one of the two forms of negotiations mentioned is he referring to? Is he referring to the first form of negotiations that leads to amnesty for the terrorists or is he referring to the second one that leads to saving the lives of innocent victims of kidnap?
We all understand that it is the primary duty of the government to provide its citizens with security to lives and property. As the Nigerian government has failed to provide this to the citizens, what moral right has any governor to say that he will not negotiates to save the lives of innocent kidnapped citizen?
If Gov Elrufai chooses the first form of negotiations, we can accept that it is in order but with the condition that he will use available might to crush them. It will be wrong and effort in futility for him to say he will not negotiate with them and will not go and follow them, fight them and crush them. It has to be one of the two in this case, you either negotiate with them or fight them. Not doing any of the two is the same as promoting and abetting insecurity.
More so, talking about the second form of negotiations, that of negotiating to save the lives of kidnapped citizens, since there are victims that have been abducted, their lives now supersede any other thing, including the ransom they claim. You must negotiate with them to save the innocent lives of those abducted. It is a matter of life and death.
The ruthlessness that led the bandits into kidnapping the students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization is the same ruthlessness that will make them to kill them and simply walk away. So it is now for Gov Elrufai to choose between saving the lives of the abducted students by negotiating for it, or allowing them to be silently murdered by the terrorists, in which case he is promoting and abetting insecurity and bloodshed. There is nothing like bravery in refusing to negotiate to save people’s lives.
The sad reality is that, already the public is beginning to be convinced that such wickedness perpetrated by leaders who don’t value lives of innocent citizens who are not only victims of kidnapping but also victims of leadership failure, is because the children of the leaders are not among the victims, they would have since done anything to save their lives. But poor citizens are left in the hands of ruthless kidnapers facing torture and intimidation without a word of hope to their families and friends.
It is now left for Gov Elrufai to choose to save the lives of the victims or promote insecurity and bloodshed in the country.