Nigerians have expressed doubts about the willingness of the Federal Government to embrace the offer by the U. S. government to help and identify the sponsors of Boko Haram, which has waged an insurgency war on Nigeria in the last 12 years.
Some security experts, former diplomats, and leaders of some socio-cultural/civil society organisations in the country who spoke to The Guardian said embracing the proposal was the best option for the country at this point, but were skeptical about President Muhammadu Buhari’s disposition to the offer.
Recall that the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, had during a round-table on U.S.-Nigeria military cooperation with journalists in Abuja, last Monday night, declared that her country was very eager to partner with Nigeria on identifying Boko Haram sponsors.
A former Assistant Director of the Department of State Services, Dennis Amachree, asserted that the U.S. had been positively disposed to supporting Nigeria, especially in the fight against terrorism, noting that the question was whether the Federal Government would embrace the current gesture.
He said: “Are we ready to arrest and prosecute these sponsors when exposed? Are we simply going to lock them away as has been done in the past? These are the concerns and the Americans may lose interest if we don’t take it seriously.
“Nigeria will do well to accept the offer as the country is really at a crossroads and will accept any help she can get. United States agreeing to support Nigeria means that they will come with some of their cutting-edge technology, which will boost the capability of Nigerian security agencies.”
A former Naval Chief, Rear Admiral Godwill Siempre Ombo, simply said: “These are touchy questions. Who truly wants to end issues in his or her life that will not embrace any support to end such issues?”
To a former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) Prof. Bola Akinterinwa, “if the government of Nigeria is serious about the need to bring Boko Haramism to an end, the government should consider it as an opportunity to be taken advantage of.”
He added: “I remember that in 2020, either in July or August, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, accused the international community, particularly the big powers, that they were blocking all Nigerian efforts to deal with the Boko Haram group.
“Lai Mohammed by that time was accusing the United States, the big powers, their allies, holding them responsible for the government of Nigeria’s inability to contain Book Haram insurgency.
Now, a year after, the U.S. is offering to assist in knowing who is doing what, who is funding Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. It will be very illogical for the government of Nigeria to have accused the big powers in the year 2020 that they were blocking their efforts, now when they are de-blocking your alleged efforts, it will not make any sense for the government of Nigeria to refuse.
“What I am saying, in essence, is that the first point is that the government of Nigeria wanted assistance, but it was allegedly blocked. Now that the U.S. is giving the opportunity of de-blocking, it is only logical to accept.
“The second point is that the Nigerian people have been asking President Buhari to seek international collaboration to end Boko Haram. If the government accepts, he will be doing so in the spirit of public request that Boko Haram cannot be suppressed without international support. So, if they accept the support, it is consistent with the spirit of the public in Nigeria.
Thirdly, the reason we should support U.S. to reveal is that Nigerians themselves have been accusing the Nigerian government that the government knows all those who are responsible for Boko Haram.
“Theophilus Danjuma had already accused the military of aiding and abetting Boko Haram. Dr. Malaifa Obadiah told us the report of the meeting with Boko Haram commanders.
“Just last week, Commodore Omowunmi on Channel TV said that from 2007 to 2009, nothing has happened to the people they arrested for Boko Haram, that government knows. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said there is a Fulanisation agenda. So, if Nigerians know those who are in charge but they did not say it, we need the intervention of a country like the U.S. to reveal the secret.”
We have always asked for international intervention; even in the time of Goodluck Jonathan, we had sought the support of the international community. The problem is that the government has not wholeheartedly defined support so that other people can appreciate the enormity of the problems they have.
“For instance, if you surf the Internet, the global community sees herdsmen as a terrorist group. But in Nigeria, they are treated with kid gloves. What you call unknown gunmen, how can something remain unknown for a long time and you have security professionals? The advanced society hates this kind of double-dealing.
“If Nigeria begins to define things the way they are and with sincerity of purpose, you will see a way out of the security challenges we have. When the citizens are in danger, they run to them for the protection of their lives and property. When on the other hand the government appears to be overwhelmed because unscrupulous elements are in control of instruments of violence, there will be a problem.