By OKECHUKWU PEACE
President Muhammadu Buhari expressed the desire of the Federal Government for the United Nations to help mediate with the terror group, Boko Haram, in negotiations to free the 200 abducted Chibok girls.
The teenage girls were kidnapped by the Boko Haram in April 2014 from their government-owned school in Chibok, Borno State. The Buhari administration has faced heavy criticisms for its inability to secure the release of the girls.
Speaking on Wednesday in New York during a bilateral meeting with UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, Mr. Buhari said his government was willing to accept the UN as a mediator. He reiterated his earlier stance that it was difficult identifying the credible leadership of the sect.
“The challenge is in getting credible and bona fide leadership of Boko Haram to discuss with,” the President told the UN Scribe. “The split in the insurgent group is not helping matters. Government had reached out, ready to negotiate, but it became difficult to identify credible leaders. We will welcome intermediaries such as UN outfits, to step in.”
The President reiterated that the teachings of Boko Haram were far from being Islamic, as neither Islam, nor any other religion, advocates hurting the weak and innocent.
“The fact that they kill men, women, children, and other people wantonly, and shout Allahu Akbar (God is great) shows that they do not know that Allah at all. If they did, they would not shed innocent blood,” President Buhari said.
He thanked Ban Ki-moon for the moral and material support given to Nigeria, which has enabled the country surmount many of the challenges facing her.
In his response, the UN Secretary General congratulated President Buhari on the anti-corruption war, declaring: “You are highly respected by world leaders, including myself. Your persona has given your country a positive image.”
He said the UN recognized the achievements of the Buhari administration against Boko Haram, urging that human rights be upheld always, to prevent a repeat of the scenario being witnessed in Syria.
Ban Ki-moon also thanked the Nigerian leader for his commitment to issues on climate change, adding that the government should “own the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” for the good of its citizens.