Speaking in Akure on Wednesday as a discussant at a symposium held as part of the 40th Anniversary of Ondo State and the 7th anniversary of the Olusegun Mimiko-led administration, Senator Shehu Sani, has assured Nigerians that the missing Chibok school girls will be found.
The senator representing Kaduna Central senatorial district, advised that the Federal Government must negotiate with some persons to ‘extract’ the girls from their current danger.
He also said that current events in the country had revealed that the reign of bloodshed by Boko Haram in the last seven years was sustained by the greed of a few who profited from the situation.
“Something that has bothered some of us here in line with the insurgency is, when will the Chibok girls be freed. Someone said the Chibok girls will never be free, but I can tell you that they will be free and they are alive.”
It can be recalled that in the past, Senator Sani was named as a contact person through which the Nigerian government sought to negotiate with Boko Haram. A civil society leader at the time, Mr. Sani later accused the former Goodluck Jonathan government of not showing sufficient commitment to the proposed talks.
Speaking in Akure, the lawmaker noted that besides the use of force, the government must explore other ways of rescuing the girls.
“There are two ways to get them: the first is to use force to free them and before you apply force, you have to know where they are. You also have to weigh the consequences of raiding the camp with such number of persons, because the insurgents have nothing to lose.
“The second option is to explore ways of extracting them out through negotiation and negotiation is still possible. There are a few people, not a panel of eminent Nigerians or a panel, there are a few people who the government needs to reach out to,” he said.
He also explained that the girls could be rescued in the first instance, because the parties could not make concession.
“They said they were going to free the girls on the condition we freed their people. And when we came to the negotiating table, and the government said it cannot free the terrorists because they have done a lot of harm,” he recalled.
The senator also said that Boko Haram is a terrorist group with a leadership and a theocratic agenda.
“For those who have been following events in the last six to seven years, we have seen how some of us from the north, particularly myself, I tried to find an alternative means of addressing the problem of the insurgency.
“I took the risk of reaching out to the insurgents and initiating a process of dialogue, about three to four times and it was sabotaged by those who were benefitting from the bloodshed and I think the unfolding events in the country clearly shows to all Nigerians that there were people who see that seven years of bloodshed, of mass murder, of genocide as an opportunity for them to amass wealth.
“It is not possible to say that an insurgent group or people not more than two to three thousand have proved so difficult for a nation of 175 million people to crush. A nation like ours with a reputable armed forces and have performed creditably well in peace keeping missions in Liberia and sierra Leone and Congo and other countries of the world.
“It was so clear that some see it as an opportunity, like the Chinese saying, some people see crisis as a struggle, others see it as an opportunity. That is why it dragged on for so long, but I hope with the present administration, at least progress has been made in terms of degrading the capacity and ability of Boko Haram to take up territories.”