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Australian Negotiator Stephen Davis and the Nigerian Boko Haram Sponsors

Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi

By Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria

Neither the dreaded Boko Haram nor the now getting popular Dr Stephen Davis from Australia who apparently came to negotiate the release of the Chibok girls but failed need any further introduction. However what are pieces of news are the claims and counter claims, the true mission of the Australian Negotiator to Borno State of Nigeria and his results, whether Stephen is a double agent or a solo self sponsor, how much of the dusts he raised should be accepted or shifted away, or whether we are anywhere nearer to the solution or this episode is a farther calculated diversion either from Dr Davis, Nigeria government of PDP and opposition party APC or the misunderstanding of the media. In summery Dr Stephen Davis who probably should have been asked to refund monies paid because he had failed to get the girls released is now claiming that he came on his own and the Nigeria government prefers that option of argument. He came all the way from far away Australia, (the country of the Aborigines) only to dine and wine with middle class Boko Haram operatives and raising unnecessary dusts to further compound the messy equation. No sir.

130929203511-boko-haram-screengrab-abubakar-shekau-horizontal-galleryDr. Davis admitted that he came to Nigeria to facilitate the release of the Chibok girls abducted by Boko Haram on April 14 2014, but denied that he was engaged by any party and also that he had not been hired by the Nigerian authorities. He said that he was not engaged by the Federal Government of Nigeria, any state government or any other party. He came to Nigeria in late April 2014 in an effort to facilitate a handover of the Chibok captives after discussing such a possibility with former commanders of Jama’atu Ahlul Sunnah Lih Da’awa wal Jihad (otherwise known as JAS) and others close to Boko Haram. Dr. Davis agreed that Boko Haram is sponsored and that the sponsors of Boko Harma’s assumptions are to undermine any efforts of the current government to be re-elected in 2015. Further the sponsors of Boko Haram are aiming to win government in 2015, when they would turn Boko Haram insurgency off or that Boko Haram will demand the control of at least Borno State in return for reducing their attacks. Boko Haram would like to use Borno State as a beginning of an expanding Caliphate they declared lately. This is a major claim and seems not contradicting many independent findings. Why should either Dr Davis or the Federal Government of Nigeria shy away from owning up even if private monies might have been expended on this failed mission? Hence we are not taking Dr Stephen Davis recent reneging on whether or not he had been sponsored by a government authority but that there is enough smoke coming out of his mouth all of which requires in-depth analysis.

The efforts of the Federal Government of Nigeria on this issue under President Jonathan have come in various forms even when we feel less satisfied with the big talk but small stick they are applying to ward off Boko Haram. The claim that government officers know where these girls are also means the same thing that FGN officer knowing what Boko Haram is capable of doing. This is part of the big talk. The small stick includes confronting Boko Haram with soldiers that are less armed or tactics that could still allow Boko Haram to have access to funds and arms unhindered. The Australian might only have met middle level commanders of Boko Haram and a few of their sponsors all of whom might be looking out for information on each other. The Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Amnesty might also have met with Dr Davis using him to collect information on the activities of the Islamic sect. I personally think that Dr. Davis might have served as a government informant until his mission failed. If he had succeeded the story would have been different. I also think that Nigeria Government should have looked more inward to use professional Nigerians for this exercise more often instead of always running out for foreign assistants. Many Nigerians are excellent in this area and could be trusted too. It is not the caliber and level of the leadership and main commanders of Boko Haram one finds for information that real matters at the end but that the information collected during investigation is authentic and genuine.

Therefore, head or tail, the girls are still in captivity, Boko Haram is growing larger than life whereas many Nigerians and the international community are unsatisfied. Those who need official evidence to prosecute these cases may have to collect the information on their own. We cannot rely on collected and denied information nor can we always generally rely on newspapers publications for official gazette. Most newspapers information today is obtained online, from secondary sources and they travel on heavy traffic lanes. Secondly government officials are always diplomatic and would never give away the complete information. Hence there is a greater need for media houses to source a large portion of their information primarily on their own even though this may push up the cost of such information. On this particular subject matter Dr. Stephen Davis should come cleaner. Who has he been working for and why was he in Nigeria since April 2014? Why did he leave Nigeria seeing that his mission has not been accomplished fully?

The Federal government of Nigeria is fighting Boko Haram as different from the release of the Chibok girls. The parents of these girls, the Nigeria public, and the international community are looking for the release of these girls as a significant sign and symbol of government’s seriousness. Whereas Boko Haram and their sponsors are just looking for ways to expose the perceived weaknesses of the present administration and hoping to further discredit it. But who picks the pieces of a fragmented society? The Borno axis of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been drawn several years backward from the rest of the country. Unfortunately those mentioned by the Australian have some task to do in order to clean their involvement and not be part of the enemies of the embattled nation Nigeria. Our society, upon mere hearing that an individual is a thief, can set such an individual publicly ablaze.

We must recall that the South-East is yet to recover from a war that lasted only three years and a war that had a mission and land boundaries. The Ibo people we knew in the early 1960s are different from those that came out of the war. The former were more confident, bold and really enterprising whereas the later that are still with us now are only pursuing money, where more of their women go to school and the men selling anything. It has been a disjoint of development and disconnection of a collective association. The North and the North-Eastern part of Nigeria will need collective efforts beyond regional sentiments for a meaningful development to result. The likes of Dr Davis from UK, USA or Australia should not only give us false alarms or half truths about who Boko Haram and their sponsors are. If they must come in they would need to do thorough jobs including bringing home our girls, telling us how to put down a Boko Haram insurgent, how to develop the vast land of Sambisa Forest turning it to a commercial land, how to rehabilitate the already disillusioned, discouraged and dejected young boys and girls to go back to school, exchanging rehabilitating centers for the Boko Haram militant training centers, and so on. We cannot throw away completely some of the findings published as from Dr Stephen Davis earlier claims that Nigerian Military Officers, Politicians, Bankers and others have been providing support and comfort to grow Boko Haram. What we may disagree with is the particular individuals mentioned which may have been done deliberately to cause more confusion rather than providing the needed light. The acid test is time and trusting that Nigerians would never relent in hurting those who hurt them. The spirits of the dead would always hurt those who kill them and this would continue from generation to generation.

Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi

ipinyomira@yahoo.co.uk or/and raipinyomi@unilorin.edu.ng



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