Sunday, 2 November 2014

Credibility Crisis, Confusion Over BokoHaram’s Ceasefire Denial

NIGERIA’S global credibility has taken a big dip following its poor handling of the ceasefire deal with the Boko Haram, insurgents. The fighters have denied any kind of talks with the Federal Government for the release of the Chibok girls and an eventual ceasefire soon.

News of Boko Haram’s denial of the ceasefire broke over the weekend dashing the hopes of even international observers who were expecting some breakthrough regarding, in particular, the release of the over 200 Chibok girls. For instance, the French President, Francois Hollande, had also had high hopes regarding the release of the Chibok girls about two weeks ago after talks to that effect were reportedly brokered between the Federal Government and the insurgents by the Chadian President.

The seeming endorsement of the ceasefire claims by the French president had raised the confidence of many in the US, and the United Nations, even when the US government carefully refused to confirm or deny the truce talks. A report from the Associated Press (AP), a global news agency based in the US, stated that the announcement by the leader of the terrorists group “discredits the government of President Goodluck Jonathan, who on Thursday formally announced his candidacy for elections on Feb. 14, 2015 in Africa’s most populous nation.”

Besides, US-based Nigerian groups like the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, CANAN in a short reaction said “the news of Boko Haram denying any kind of truce with the federal government is not as
shocking as the fact that the Nigerian government often appear disorganized in the way they manage the whole issue.”

In a release from CANAN Secretariat in New York, over the weekend, the group wondered why very senior government officials would make false claims over and over again. “And then, no one is readily available to explain to the public what could possibly have gone wrong? This kind of information dissemination cannot inspire any kind of public credibility.”

Dr. Doyin Okupe, the senior special assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on public affairs was not readily ‘available’ to comment on the matter when The Guardian called his mobile line yesterday. He returned the call to explain that he was at a public function.

Members of the US Congress and religious freedom advocates in the U.S are also said to have been disappointed because many of them actually hoped that the talks were truly in progress, considering the rank of the Nigerian officials giving the information and the fact that the name of the president of a neighboring nation — Chad — was also associated with the talks.

In fact, some US sources were taken aback that, while the US government never confirmed the talks, the French President Hollande, two weeks ago, lent credence to it when he publicly expressed hope about the ceasefire and imminent release of the Chibok girls.

But some analysts in the U.S think that the Federal Government could have been talking with a faction of the terrorists group, who wanted to settle, without first ascertaining if the faction had a significant influence among the Boko Haram commanders.

Just a day before the outright denial of the ceasefire talks by the terrorists, the New York Times had done an
editorial on Nigeria and the Boko Haram crisis, titled Boko Haram’s Continuing Rampage, where the paper described how the claims of the government on a ceasefire had turned out false.

According to the paper, ”on Oct. 18, the day after the Nigerian military announced that it had reached a cease-fire agreement with the group, Boko Haram went on a house-to-house search for young women in two Nigerian towns, taking 60. Last weekend, the sect kidnapped 30 teenagers, including girls, as young as 11 years old.”

Guardian Newspaper