The governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam has appealed to the political elite and other well-meaning individuals in the North to pressure the dreaded Boko Haram sect to quit being faceless and engage in a constructive dialogue with the Federal Government with a view to finding a lasting solution to the security challenges in the region.
Suswam stated this at the weekend in an interactive session with newsmen shortly after the graduation of students from the Abdulsalami Abubakar Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development in Minna, the capital of Niger State.
He said that in the past, the leadership of Niger Delta militants came out when the late President Umaru Yar’adua sought them out for dialogue. This led to the talks being held at the Presidential Villa, before being also held in the creeks which led to the problem being resolved. In the same vein, he appealed to the leadership of Boko Haram to come out and dialogue with the Presidency to resolve issues, “otherwise we have an issue here.”
“I believe in dialogue, but you see the problem here now is if I am dialoguing with you, we should identify ourselves, but the people are unwilling to come out of their hiding places and say, ‘look, I am leading this people, here are our issues, so let us sit at a roundtable and discuss them. It is very unfortunate that you do not even have any idea who you are dialoguing with, as members of the sect are not ready to come out of their hidings. And as leaders of the North, we must address the issues more seriously than we are doing presently,” he said.
The governor pointed out that economic activities in the North had already been crippled due to the negative activities of the sect, and at a time when everyone was talking about poverty, peace and sustainable development. He said that in the next 10 years, the situation may get to the point where most people or an average northerner would just be walking the streets like a mad man as a result of lack of serious investment in the region.
“Northerners are even departing Northern states to invest in other places. So, it is either northerners take these things seriously or all of us end up being consumed in it. Rather than it being something we joke about, if I know the leader of the sect, I should appeal to him to come forward for negotiation; otherwise the most affected region in the country in the next 10 years would be the northern region,” said Suswam.