There are fears among the Northern leadership that hardliners within the Boko Haram Islamist sect may be influenced by al-Qaeda to frustrate the planned amnesty offer of the Federal Government.
This is in addition to mounting anxiety over whether the amnesty would extend to the Ansaru extremist sect, a splinter group of Boko Haram which operates across Nigeria, Cameroun, Chad and Niger Republic.
Indications appear that Northern leaders have been making contacts over the past 48 hours to ensure that the militant sect does not disgrace them by refusing to ceasefire even after the amnesty.
A few Northern leaders have confessed that the region is anxious for the insurgents to take the offer when it is eventually made, as refusing it may further weaken the zone and strengthen the president’s political capital as the 2015 elections approach.
A leader from Kano, who declined being mentioned, said, “We are eager and very optimistic that the militants will accept. We are on trial with this amnesty, and our hope is that the sect will listen to us and not their alleged affiliates in al-Qaeda, as this is a possibility we are dreading.”
He said many leaders who met with President Goodluck Jonathan are now worried about the international dimension to the crisis.
He said further, “We pray that they will see the bloodletting and save our region. Another concern of ours is that if Ansarul Islam continues attacks on security forces, the situation won’t get better even with the amnesty.”
A young, Kaduna-based Katsina leader said, “There are two sides to it. The must listen to our elders and rescue our region. Secondly, and this is the view of many of us with an intellectual bent, failure to accept amnesty may put some northern bigwigs in trouble.”
He confirmed the general anxiety in the North over the amnesty, saying that many are currently praying that the amnesty offer will become a reality.
However, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) has accused the Presidency of trying to trick the North with the offer of amnesty, saying that “the political Boko Haram”, which is the most dangerous, is linked with the ruling party.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, RotimiFashakin said, “The prayer in the North is that these killings stop. But we pray that political Boko Haram will stop once this amnesty is on stream.”
Meanwhile, the Presidency has said that contrary to rumours being peddled on social media, no package had been adopted yet by the Federal Government for the amnesty.
This clarification came from the Presidential Spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati on the Africa Independent Television yesterday, who said that the Amnesty Committee would work out all the operational details and submit its report to the President.