Former First Lady, Hajia Turai Yar’adua has pleaded with President Goodluck Jonathan to forgive the Boko Haram Islamist sect in the same way her husband, the late President Umaru Yar’adua did with former Niger Delta militants.
She made this appeal at a gala night in Lagos on Friday night organized by a group called the Niger Delta Young Professionals, where she also advised Jonathan to ignore anyone who advised him against granting Boko Haram amnesty.
She said, “When Yar’Adua saw that the people in the Niger Delta, particularly the children were dying callously, he (Yar’Adua) took it upon himself to grant amnesty to the militants to ensure lasting peace.
“There is poverty in the North. What Yar’Adua did in the Niger Delta, let Jonathan do the same thing to the North.
“Mr. President should not allow his advisers to deceive him. Let him sit down and think about the insecurity in the North.”
She said she respected her husband and would continue to do so until her death.
She also advocated youths’ empowerment, saying if the youth are empowered, the country would be empowered.
At the same event, President Jonathan heaped blames upon Northern elders for the continuing Boko Haram violence saying they had not done enough to unmask those behind the group’s activities.
Jonathan, who was represented by his Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, said, “When the issue of Niger Delta was raging, and I will say this with all sense of responsibility, leaders of the region, particularly the governors, were the drivers of the process.
“They reached out to the people and to the militants, they spoke and took their discussion, to an appreciable level before the Federal Government stepped in and then harnessed everything.
“What efforts are the northern leaders making? We need to learn because every incident of Boko Haram in Nigeria is situated within the geopolitical confines of a region. What are the leaders doing?
“Security agencies are not magicians – they are not spirits. These people who perpetrate these crimes do not come from the moon; they live within them. Why are they not helping the security agencies with the needed information? The problem of insecurity is not only the problem of government – it is the problem of all of us.”
He said that the Federal Government was making efforts towards solving the problems and appealed to Nigerians for patience and understanding.
He recalled when the late Yar’Adua and himself decided to take the initiative to address the restiveness of Niger Delta militants, they knew the people they were speaking to and knew where they could go and see them, either in their creeks, headquarters or homes, which is unlike the case of Boko Haram where the perpetrators are not unknown, save for the few of them that speak on the internet or to the press.
“We reached out to them and spoke to them. We understood each other and on the basis of that, an understanding was reached and it was this understanding that was faithfully executed that led us to the amnesty in the region,” he said.
Five persons were recognized at the awards including late Yar’Adua (posthumous); Akwa Ibom Governor Godswill Akpabio; his Lagos State counterpart, Babatunde Fashola; Chairman, Arik Air, Mr. Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide and 10-year-old author, Daniella Dan-Jumbo.