Most Nigerians will readily attest to the fact that both President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo are pious men. Their immeasurable piousness was perhaps their major asset during the 2015 election. It was mainly because of their Muslim and Christian credentials that the masses of poor Nigerians who as a result of cultural imperialism believe they are holier than Sheikh Abdul Rehman Al Sadais, the chief Iman of Mecca or Pope Francis in Rome, elected these two devout leaders into power. And they have not disappointed us as the two pious men have continued to live and govern by faith.
Pastor Osinbajo speaking at the interdenominational church service for the 2018 Armed forces Day Celebration in Abuja on January 5 2018, said “as dangerous, deadly and heartless as killings by Fulani herdsmen in Adamawa, Benue and Jos were, retaliation was not the answer”. His message was that of forgiveness.
In the same vein, on January 2018 while president Buhari was assuring grieving Benue delegation of political, traditional rulers and elders of Benue led by Governor Ortom after mass burial of victims of marauding herdsmen, that the perpetrators would be brought to book, he appealed to them saying “in the name of God accommodate your country men”. His was also a message of forgiveness.
Was forgiveness not what all the Holy books, the Bible and the Quran prescribed? : “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful..( Surah Ghafir, verse 55 ) “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool..( Isaiah 1:18) And when Peter asked Jesus “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.( Matthew 18: 21-22)
The setting up and the launching of ‘Operation Safe Corridor’, an initiative for the de-radicalisation and rehabilitation of ex-Boko Haram members and their reintegration back into society by President Buhari’s government in 2016 therefore fitted perfectly into the mindset of our pious leaders. But five years into the launching of the initiative, killings, whether in the name of Boko-Haram, Bandits or Fulani herdsmen have continued in north western states of Sokoto, Zanfara, Katsina and Kaduna where 222 persons were killed with 774 others kidnapped between May and July 2021.
And without succor for about 350, 000 killed, 3m displaced and over 310,000 driven by insurgents from their communities marooned in IDP camps before the take-off of the project, people read injustice into pampering of criminals that had visited so much sorrow on Nigerians. As asked by Bishop Kukah “Why should rehabilitating those that declared war against Nigerians , murdered thousands of citizens, destroyed infrastructure and rendered entire families permanently displaced and dislocated than victims in IDP camps”?.
Besides Soldiers at the war front in the north-east who expressed misgivings about the release of repentant Boko Haram suspects, some residents of Borno in July 2020, kicked against the reintegration of repentant Boko-Haram members into their communities, asking the federal government to take them to Aso Rock.
But questioning the success of this federal government pet-project last week during the surrender of 1,000 repentant Boko Haram terrorists and about 200 other Nigeria ex-militants from Cameroon, Governor Babagana Zulum, said while he was not opposed to federal government policy he observed “ no one will find it easy that killers of his or her children and other loved ones including our courageous soldiers and volunteers who have lost colleagues..” are integrated without paying or atoning for their sins. He further claimed that “quite often those who have passed through the Safe Corridor initiative, usually go back and rejoin the terror group after carefully studying the various security arrangements in their host communities, during the reintegration process”. He then called for the review of “the whole idea of de-radicalisation, as currently being implemented, to ensure the main goals and the underlying objectives behind the initiative are achieved.” His recommendation therefore include: immediately prosecution of the insurgents in accordance with the terrorism Act and devolution of the powers of the minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation to state attorneys-general in order to facilitate the prosecution process,”
But our pious leaders driven by his sense of self-righteousness have shown no inclination towards changing their strategy. But instead, from far away Washington DC came support from another man of faith, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture. According to him the decision by the federal government not to prosecute repentant insurgents is “in line with global best practice. What they (soldiers) were doing is what the global practice dictates about soldiers that surrendered that should be treated as prisoners of war,”