The immediate past Governor of Yobe State, Senator Ibrahim Gaidam has sponsored a bill that seeks to create an agency for the rehabilitation of repentant Boko Haram members. The introduction of the bill has outraged many Nigerians while some serving and present senators also kicked against it. While the nationality of the insurgents is being questioned, the lawmakers have described the bill as needless, waste of resources and misplaced priority.
Officially know as, “A Bill for the Establishment of the National Agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De-radicalisation and Integration of Repentant Insurgents in Nigeria and for Other Connected Purposes’”, the bill attracted lots of angry reactions from the Chibok Community as well as the Christian Association of Nigeria.
Ibrahim Gaidam and His Dreams
Gaidam, in a report by The Nation Newspaper, gave his reasons when he addressed a press conference in Abuja.
In summary, he, Gaidam, hopes that the agency would help repentant insurgents to re-enter mainstream politics, religion and society. It also would promote reconciliation and national unity.
The idea of a bill like this is insensitivity on the part of Gaidam. Accepting the repentant Boko Haram members back into the society requires much wisdom and patience than the dream-like and hasty approach.
Since 2009, Boko Haram have killed people in hundreds, destroyed families, homes and properties, instilled fear and tension in the minds of Nigerians, kidnapped, raped, sold and killed innocent girls amidst many other atrocities. It is ridiculous that a former governor would be insensitive to the state of mind of Nigerians.
Annoyingly, a copy of the bill on the agency for Boko Haram repentant terrorists, obtained by Premium Times, states that one per cent of TETFund and UBEC fund will be used in funding the agency for rehabilitating the terrorists. The agency will also be funded by 0.5 per cent of the federal allocation of the six North-East states.
This is to happen in a situation where about half of the population live in poverty. In a 2018 report, Nigeria overtook India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty, with an estimated 87 million Nigerians, or around half of the country’s population, thought to be living on less than $1.90 a day. The findings were based on a projection by the World Poverty Clock and compiled by Brookings Institute. The citizens are out of school, the terrorists would be in school! Pathetic!
If, in the name of repentance, these benefits would be enjoyed by those who have brought us pains, those who, millions of naira have been spent to fight, then, people will join Boko Haram, repent the next day and have a good life.
Also, Gaidam did not specify what category of the repentant terrorists would be rehabilitated back to the society. Those who joined voluntarily or those who were forced?
AN INVITATION TO A CIVIL WAR
In the last heading, I have discussed insensitivity on the part of Gaidam and it continues here.
The Igbos, Hausa-Fulanis and the Yorubas are the major tribes in Nigeria. On one hand, the country is battling with Nnamdi Kanu’s group, Biafrans and on the other hand, the President, Muhammadu Buhari has been accused of tribalism by his critics.
In the midst of this, a senator, from Yobe State, who schooled in Maiduguri is seeking for the rehabilitation of terrorists who claim to practice his religion and many of them are from his tribe. How will he prove to us that he is not their sponsor or their godfather or that there is no ethnic or religious sentiment in the solution he proffers?
Were Gaidami sensitive enough, he should know that he is not in a position to sponsor a bill that, at the end of the day, would put the terrorists an edge beyond about half of the citizens, politically, educationally and financially. It implies that he is defending his people.
SHOULD WE REHABILITATE YAHOO BOYS TOO?
While the previous heading centered on insensitivity from Gaidam, it also points out the possibility of a tribal sentiment in his bill.
The South-West is, today, battling with the menace of the ‘Yahoo Boys’ – youths who have made internet fraud their source of living. These youths have continued to give the nation a bad name on international level. But, why is the South-West not raising a bill that would rehabilitate them back to the society? If any Yoruba Senator does, would we not suspect him to be a Godfather to some or many of them?
The same reason(s) Gaidam has raised to seek for the rehabilitation of the repentant Boko Haram members also applies(apply) to the Yahoo Boys. If the repentant BH members can help us fight BH, the repentant Yahoo Boys too will help track their former colleagues.
The menace of the Yahoo Boys is not close to that of BH, yet no one is attempting to give them a soft landing. For whatever good the repentant BH members could do in ending BH, repentant Yahoo Boys can help do same against their colleagues.
BUT WE REFUSED TO ABOLISH THE CAPITAL PUNISHMENT?
The Capital Punishment has been a subject of debate for years. While some argue that it remains, some have called for its abolishment. Over hundred countries have abolished it.
Countries that no longer implement the capital punishment and Amnesty International have argued that people who are convicted of crimes that merit the capital punishment could be rehabilitated back to and useful for the society.
Nigeria is among the list of countries that still practice or implement the capital punishment. Therefore, it implies that we do not buy the idea of rehabilitating such criminals back to the society. Hence, an attempt to rehabilitate repentant BH members within the context of Gaidam’s Bill would mean that Nigeria has no reason not to abolish the capital punishment.
Conclusively, Gaidam is a dreamer and the bill is a foolish one with a tribal bias. A bill that wants so much for repentant BH members and no thought about the IDPs? Let all his Bill suggests go to the IDPs who are victims of Boko Haram itself.
The repentant BH members cannot be trusted. We have not had a terrorist group like BH in the history of Nigeria, therefore, comparing the bill to an earlier negotiation with some ‘terrorist’ group amounts to a fallacy of false equivalence. The Bill, if passed, will lead to more terrorist groups across the nation, from different tribes each wanting a share of the national cake.
While I may change my opinion, but definitely not to Gaidam’s, I am suggesting that no repentant Boko Haram should enjoy any benefit from the Federal or State Government without the IDPs enjoying double or triple of that benefit.
Also, the repentant BH members should enjoy the benefits while under house arrest for about two to three years or a special software be designed that monitors their communication and day-to-day movement.
Letting repentant Boko Haram members road the society like free citizens is like sitting on a time bomb. I strongly advice that the Presidency be wise and patient in making a decision about the repentant Boko Haram members. As for Gaidam’s bill, throw in in the waste bin.
Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman (CEO, Knowislam Project – Knowislam.com.ng)