Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) leader, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, Wednesday rejected his nomination by Boko Haram to mediate in talks with the Federal Government in a bid to end the terror activities of the group in the country.
Buhari, reacting personally for the first time since his name was mentioned, along with five others by the sect last week, said he would neither work for the insurgency group nor negotiate on behalf of the Federal Government.
His party had earlier distanced him from the Islamic sect’s activities, saying he would not take up the offer.
He also spoke on the ongoing merger talks of opposition parties, saying the alliance, when it comes to fruition, would ensure the defeat of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 general election.
Affirming his party’s position on the issue, Buhari told reporters shortly after the Board of Trustees (BoT) meeting of CPC in Abuja, that he has nothing to do with the sect and does not know any of its members.
He said: “I think my party has done an excellent job; I do not think I should still speak after my party has spoken on the matter. For me, I do not know any member of Boko Haram and secondly, I do not know any member of my party that knows them either.
“So, how can I represent people I do not know, that I do not believe in whatever their cause is? How can I work for a government that is Boko Haram that has failed to do the most important thing of protecting lives and property with all the military, with all the resources available? How do I work for them?” Buhari said he could not be part of any organisation or group whose target is to kill people or a government that has abandoned its key responsibility of caring and protecting lives.
“I do align with the intellectual position that there are three Boko Harams. Ahmed Yusuf (the suspected leader of the sect, the late Mohammed Yusuf), whom we know was killed then in Maiduguri. This is what we know then that the military working for internal security in Maiduguri, looked for Yusuf, got him, and handed him over to the police.
“But he later died in uncertain circumstances while in police custody. Again, his in-law was murdered and their houses were razed to the ground. “I understood that subsequently the Borno State Government had to pay them compensation.
“Certainly, the second Boko Haram was the criminal gang attacking market places and killing and maiming people. But I said and I still maintain it that the biggest Boko Haram is the Federal Government itself because it has all the powers to stop anarchy particularly in the Northern part of the country.
“So the situation has degenerated to a stage where people have no jobs and they are thinking of what to eat and how to survive the next day,” he said. He explained that when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was blowing up places, the British Government took a bold step in addressing the issues and curtailing its menace.
According to him, since the genesis of the Boko Haram insurgency could be traced to the activities of its leader, Yusuf and his killings, government ought to have taken measures to bring the parties involved together and tried to resolve the crisis.
Speaking on the state of opposition parties’ merger plans, Buhari said Nigerians believe that the coming together of opposition parties was the only solution to take over power from the PDP-led Federal Government.
“I challenge the pessimists to go and do some research from 1999 to date, on what the state of infrastructure was then and what it is now as well as the amount of money that accrued to government.
“Those pessimists are going to be disappointed because the opposition parties will come out with a merger that will overthrow the PDP government in a democratic way come 2015,” he said.
Buhari, who has contested the presidential election for a record three times, said due to the challenges CPC went through after the 2011 elections, the party could not hold its BoT meetings regularly. While commenting on the peaceful conclusion of the United States presidential election, Buhari praised Americans for their determination to ensure a true democratic process.
Among issues discussed at the meeting were merger plans and reports of various committees set up to settle disputes within the party. Also tabled for discussion by the party leaders was the report by the renewal committee headed by a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.
The meeting also discussed how to resolve the seeming division among the CPC National Executive Committee (NEC) members on the merger talks with Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Some conservative elements within the party, which had enjoyed the backing of the National Secretary, Alhaji Buba Galadima and another party bigwig, Alhaji Sule Hama, have kicked against the role being played by el-Rufai in the merger talks.
They argued that the el-Rufai's renewal committee has no mandate to negotiate with the ACN.
However, another group in the party that described itself as “progressives” backed the former minister on the grounds that he is more reliable and articulate.
It is believed that Buhari’s presence yesterday calmed nerves at the BoT meeting, as the warring parties decided to sheath their swords and allow peace to reign.
However, it was not clear if the party has resolved the contentious issue of who will lead the negotiation committee on the merger, which has been the subject of conflict between supporters of el-Rufai, Galadima and Hama.
Also unresolved was the issue of those indicted by the white paper report on the crisis in the Katsina State chapter of the party, as well as the allegations of sharp practices within the party during the 2011 general election.