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Boko Haram: Beyond The Amnesty Rejection

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The Boko Haram insurgence in Nigeria is gradually but steadily taking its toll. From when the sect made itself known in the mid nineties, to when it started bombings in the late nineties, the group has no doubt proved to be second to none in terms of wanton destruction of human lives and properties.

It has murdered in cold blood an estimated 3000 people, including helpless women, children and the aged. Some of the sect’s victims were foreigners.

How to end these senseless and gruesome killings has been a thorn in the flesh of the Federal Government, a situation which compelled the Presidency to reluctantly accept to grant members of the sect amnesty.

President Goodluck Jonathan came under intense pressure over the amensty issue with politicians from the violence-torn north, including Nigeria’s highest Muslim spiritual figure, the Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar III, calling for the amnesty.

The initial response from the President was that the shadowy group remains faceless, hence amnesty could not be granted to ghosts. Members of the sect obviously saw being declared a ghost as a slight, saying that even if they are ghosts, the ghost is real and continues to haunt Nigeria with devastating effects.

At the end, the Federal Government declared amnesty for the terrorist Islamist group, only to be stunned last Thursday by the declaration of their perceived leader, Abubakar Shekau, that the group was not interested in the offer of amnesty.

In rejecting the offer via a recording translated by AFP, a voice believed to be that of Shekau, said “Surprisingly, the Nigerian government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong have we done? It is we that should grant you Federal Government pardon for your atrocities against us.”

It will be recalled that Boko Haram had rejected a similar amnesty offer in 2011 from Kashim Shettima, then governor-elect of Borno state, on the grounds that the group did not recognise the Nigerian constitution, that it recognises only the laws of Allah.

This latest rejection, against the background of the numerous mindless killings and terror unleashed by the group on innocent citizens, has widely been seen as an act of condemnable and unacceptable brigandage and blustering, that needs to be put under check promptly.

There is no doubt that, for no cognisable reason, Boko Haram has visited untold agony on the body and soul of Nigeria, and currently threatens the nation’s life. But their rejection of the amnesty amounts to an outright provocation and an insult on the collective sensibility of Nigerians.

It is proof that Boko Haram is unrepentant and incorrigible in its wrong-doing. It, therefore, behoves those who clamoured and pressured the President to grant the amnesty to bring pressure to bear on the sect to accept the amnesty or face the wrath of the law against terrorism.

On its own, the act is an insight into the level of levity with which members of Boko Haram trivialises their despicable criminality. Placed side-by-side with the aspirations of Nigeria’s leadership to keep as one the country’s multi-lingual, traditional and socio-cultural entities, the sect seem to have not only esoterically but unequivocally called off the bluff of the government, as it were, but has also challenged the government to do its worst.

To say the least, it underscores the hidden agenda of the group to disrupt governance and ultimately destabilize the country.

When compared with the ultimatum given the then Niger Delta militants to either accept the amnesty or face the full might of the Federal Government, President Jonathan may at this point need to bite the bullet and face down the terrorists, even as he keeps all windows of opportunity for dialogue open.

This is in appreciation of the idea behind the amnesty programme, which was mooted to encourage the group to halt the on-going insurgency and save the country and Nigerians the recurring agony of insecurity that has virtually taken over the north, and threatening the rest of the country.

Beyond this, the act has also called to serious question the sincerity and respect of the acclaimed Nigeria’s highest Muslim spiritual figure, the Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar III in his call for amnesty. It also calls to question, the role northerners, particularly respected leaders among them, should play to end the insurgency.

Though they have not given reason for backing out of the amnesty, however justified their grievances may be, it is unacceptable for them to reject dialogue. The only deducible reason is ignorance about their ability to achieve their goals through violence.

This ignorance is thus what the northern leadership should focus on before any further consideration of amnesty can conveniently take place. While this is going on, the possibility of constitutionally using the Federal might should not be ruled out as it could be the only way to instill necessary discipline and orderliness in Nigeria’s body polity.

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Ayade Orders Recruitment Into Civil Service

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Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has ordered immediate recruitment into the state civil service to fill the vacuum that may occur due to workers’ retirements.
The new Head of Service (HoS), Mr Timothy Akwaji, disclosed this on Wednesday during his maiden meeting with permanent secretaries on Wednesday in Calabar.
Akwaji said the creation of AkwaIbom from Cross River in 1987 caused a mass exodus of civil servants to the new state, leading to mass recruitment by the state government to fill the attendant vacant positions.
“Most of these workers will be exiting the service, having completed their mandatory 35 years in service and this may create a bureaucratic vacuum if there is no mentoring of those who may be left behind to keep the service running.
“The governor has, therefore, given approval for the recruitment of workers to cushion the effect of the impending mass retirement from the state civil service.”
The Head of Service stressed the need for the permanent secretaries to mentor their subordinates, as directors and for other civil servants to look up to them as role models.
He said mentorship in the service had become necessary to enable civil servants discharge their responsibilities effectively.

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APC Releases Timetable For Nat’l Convention

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The All Progressives Congress has said it will begin the sale of forms for aspirants vying for its national positions ahead of the National Convention from February 14.
National Secretary, APC Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, announced this in a statement he issued on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said, “The APC CECPC at its 19th regular meeting on Wednesday, January 19, 2022, at the party’s National Secretariat considered and adopted the timetable/schedule of activities for the February 26, APC National Convention.”
According to him, the schedule of activities ahead of the party’s national convention is as seen below:
“Receiving of the interim report of the National Reconciliation Committee, January 31, 2022.
“Consideration and adoption of Reports of State Congresses February 2, 2022.
“Inauguration of the State Executives February 03, 2022.
“Sale of forms to all aspirants vying for National Offices at the APC National Secretariat, February 14, 2022.
“Submission of completed forms and accompanying documents at the APC National Secretariat on or before February 19, 2022.
“Publication of Sub-Committees February 19, 2022.
“Screening of all aspirants vying for National Offices February 20 February 22.
“Screening Appeals to hear and resolve complaints arising from the screening exercise February 23, 2022.
“Accreditation of all statutory and elected delegates to the National Convention – February 24 to February 25, 2022.
“National Convention to elect National Officers to the National Executive Committee February 26, 2022.
“National Convention Appeal to hear and resolve complaints arising from the National Convention February 28, 2022.”
The APC scribe, at an interaction with newsmen at the party’s National Secretariat, had earlier described as fake, reports that the party’s leadership had zoned its national chairmanship position to a particular zone.
Akpankudohede said the report should be disregarded, adding that there was no decision on that.

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INEC Dismisses Tinubu’s Comment On PVCs

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) have not expired.
The commission said this while responding to the comment credited to Senator Bola Tinubu, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Speaking while addressing the women leaders of the party who paid him a visit recently, Tinubu asked voters to obtain new PVCs.
Earlier in the month, after so much speculations, Tinubu formally announced his intention to contest for the 2023 presidency.
“In case they do not announce to you on time, the PVC you have has expired,” Tinubu said.
“Take one family member, two family members, knock on all doors and make sure that the new registration… Because they may not announce to you on time. The PVCs you have have expired. Yes!
“You need to spread it to various local government and wards at each levels. No matter how difficult it is. To me, I look at it closely and you look at other elections being held, you will see that it’s diminishing because those cards (is) expired. It’s mandatory that you go and register to vote and achieve your aspirations. May God bless you and bless Nigeria.”
But reacting, the Chief Technical Adviser to the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Bolade Eyinla, said those who have registered for election do not need to do so again because their cards are valid for future elections.
“This information is not correct. The PVC issued to all previously registered voters remains valid. This kind of statement will certainly push eligible voters to register more than once thereby creating the problem of double and multiple registrations,” he said.
In the same vein, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Lawrence Oyekanmi, said that Nigerians who already have their PVCs do not need to register again.
He warned, “In fact, double registration is an offence under our laws. Eligible Nigerians are entitled to register only once.”

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