Written by Abbas Jimoh
Retired General Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said he will not be a mediator in the proposed talks with Boko Haram as he did not know any sect member and has nothing to do with the group. The former head of state was speaking in Abuja in reaction to his reported nomination to be among mediators in dialogue with the sect, whose three-year campaign of violence has left at least 3,000 people dead according to estimates by Military authorities.
A purported spokesman for Boko Haram said last week the group was willing to discuss a ceasefire, and named Buhari among four others who should represent the Federal Government in the discussions.
Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change had dissociated him from sect’s mediator team.
“My party has done an excellent job unless you do not want to believe what my party believe,” Buhari said while answering questions from journalists at the meeting of the CPC’s board of trustees for which he is chairman.
“Firstly I do not know any member of the Boko Haram sect. I do not believe and I do not know of any religion that will go and kill people, burn schools.
“There was a stage where I mentioned that I agreed with one intellectual where he said there are three Boko Haram. One was Muhammed Yusuf whom we know of. A leader of the military then in Maiduguri then did what we know in the military about internal security. They looked for Yusuf they handed him over to the police.
“Healthy young man, and he died under a very dubious account in the police custody. Again his in-law was murdered, their houses were razed to the ground, I understood that Borno State government had to pay for compensation.
“The second Boko Haram was a criminal (group that) attacks banks and market places stealing money and they issue a statement that they are Boko Haram. And I said and I have no regret saying it that the biggest Boko Haram is the Federal Government itself, because it has all the powers to stop anarchy in the country.
“Now the social part of the country has been paralyzed, economic activities have stopped. People are no longer thinking of employment, they are thinking of what to eat and how to go about the following day.”
Speaking on the trustees meeting, Buhari said it was convened to review events in the party since the 2011 elections through tribunals and by-elections across the country. He said also they discussed the long-awaited merger with other opposition parties.
“We are done with all these problems and we have discussed on how to move forward,” he said.
“Among the things discussed is the matter of merger which has occupied the minds of most Nigerians as the only realistic way of consolidating the multi-party democracy system…. I challenged the elite to go and do some research, from 1999 till date how much Nigeria earned and where is the money.”
The meeting was attended by Buhari’s running mate Pastor Tunde Bakare, former FCT minister Nasiru El-Rufai, CPC national chairman Tony Momoh, Nasarawa State Governor Umaru Tanko Almakura, former Works minister Hassan Lawal and national secretary of the party, Engr. Buba Galadima.