Editorial

PEACE-TALKS WITH BOKO HARAM NOW

The president came to power with an unconvincing and doubtful promise to wipe out boko haram from the face of the Nigerian earth, and end the war with them as soon as possible. But that has not happened. We massively deployed there with the un-equivocal support of the world’s super-powers. But the insurgent group seems invincible. We must admit that the human costs continue to mount and the implications continue to widen. The greatest achievement against boko haram is that they were restricted to their north east area of havoc. They made one or two forays outside the north east. But they were beaten back quickly.
We must now start thinking of how to end the conflict, rather than how to win it. Boko haram can only be stopped with some flexibility on our part. Nigeria will now have to concede something because the war has stayed for far too long. It is affecting the conserving of resources for Nigeria’s economic survival. A situation of “no victor, no vanquished” has arisen again.  A declaration of unconditional ceasefire seems inevitable.
What does boko haram really and exactly want? What we think the group wants is still speculative. They have to say what it is they are fighting so obstinately and unremittingly for, despite being inflicted with heavy losses. If they cannot surrender at this point, then their grudges and grievances must be serious and such that can be looked at again and taken up at a peace conference. People are dying on both sides of the conflict and those people are after all Nigerians.
Why should they die if there is any chance that the disagreement can be resolved by peaceful means on a round table?  The fact that they are called insurgents and terrorists is a pre-judgment of their cause. It does not mean they are condemned and will never win a case at a peace conference. The way we are going, the war will end in the total destruction of one side or both sides. It is quite possible. Boko haram is the underdog in the war but it is inflicting damage which is gradual, sure and steady. Can Nigeria survive it? Only fools persist in fighting to the last man, when hardly anything is saved. Is that what we want? By now we must start thinking of how to end the war and the concessions to make, to make that happen. A negotiated settlement of any war is always in fashion and will always be called for. Now is the time. It could be too late.

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