Paul Obi in Abuja
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Metropolitan See, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, and the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammed Sa’ad Abubakar III, yesterday said the use of military force by the federal government will not solve the problems posed by Boko Haram and Niger Delta militants in the North-east and the South-south parts of the country respectively.
The duo stated this at the National Inter-faith Dialogue Meeting organised by IPCR and International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) in collaboration with the Interfaith Media Centre (IMC) in Abuja yesterday.
They stressed that using force to solve a problem has never worked in any parts of the world, therefore calling on the government to dialogue with the groups to restore peace in the country.
While speaking, Onaiyekan urged the government to stop seeing anyone with a link with the sect as terrorist. Such people, he said, should be encouraged to talk to members of the Boko Haram sect.
He said: “We have heard about Boko Haram; we have heard about the Niger Delta militancy and other places, and it probably seems to be taken for granted that all we need is better arms, better trained soldiers and we shall solve the problem.
“I am afraid it has never worked that way anywhere in the world. At some point, after the soldiers have finished their job, human beings must seat around the table and talk. There is nobody who cannot be talked with because everybody is a human being-the child of a mother and maybe the sweetheart of a woman.
“Our own Boko Haram has not taken 52 years. We are only talking of three, four years. Surely, it is not too late to move seriously in line of dialogue. That does not mean impunity. That does not mean that nobody cares about the atrocities committed.
“What it means is that no matter the atrocities, it is always possible for human beings to see one another as brothers and sisters.”
The Archbishop of Abuja said government should be prepared to dialogue with everybody. “Very often the military reaction or response can prepare the way for a fruitful dialogue but you must keep dialogue constantly in mind.
“My fear is that we are not thinking of dialogue now. Things can go hand in hand. The federal government should put in a little bit effort, resources and more interest in getting dialogue going.
“If you take Boko Haram for example, I have always said the government should encourage Muslims who want to talk to them to do so instead of seeing anybody who has link with Boko Haram as terrorist.”
According to him, “It is only people who are closed to them that can talk to them and that needs to be consciously promoted because you can never kill off every Boko Haram members and even if you do such, it is not in the interest of Nigeria to kill our brothers and sisters. We must find a way of getting them back as brothers and sisters that they are.”