Member of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, has denied media reports that the committee signed a cease fire agreement with the radical Islamist sect, Boko Haram.
Makarfi, who represents Kaduna North in the Senate, told journalists in an interview on Thursday in Kaduna that the committee only secured an “understanding” with the sect that would eventually lead to signing of a cease fire agreement.
Said he, “Definitely, our chairman did not say there was any ceasefire. He said there was an understanding to enter into dialogue that could lead to cease fire. So, he was talking about a progress indicating a process in terms of discussion”.
He was reacting to a statement credited to Chairman of the committee, Alhaji Turaki Kabiru Tanimu that members of Boko Haram have agreed to a cease fire deal in the spirit of Ramadan.
A denial by the sect’s leader, Abubakar Shekau of the existence of any deal with the Federal Government and recent terrorist activities have questioned the veracity of the committee’s claims with many calling for its immediate disbandment.
However, the two-term governor of Kaduna State noted that signing an agreement with the sect which has been responsible for killing innocent Nigerians and destroying properties could only be done by the Federal Government and “not the committee.”
“We have to understand that when it comes to signing a cease fire agreement, it is not the committee that will sign a ceasefire. It is the government but since we are involved in discussing with many of them as possible, whatever progress we are making is progress,” Makarfi added.
Although he declined to go into details of the committee’s dealing with the sect for security reasons, Makarfi disclosed that a lot had been achieved between the committee and the sect.
If this had not been the case, the Senate Finance Committee Chairman explained that President President Goodluck Jonathan would not have agreed to extend the committee’s work by another two months.
“We are happy where we are. If the President was not happy with where we are, he would not have given us additional two months to complete the critical stage of our work. We would have been given marching orders,” he said.
Makarfi, therefore, appealed to Nigerians to exercise more patience with the committee in reference to the calls by a section of Nigerians for the disbandment of the committee because according to them it has outlived its usefulness.
“I cannot divulge the full extent of the progress that has been made but in an organisation that has thousands and so many leaders, it is not an impossible thing that you are speaking to some and you are yet to speak to some.
“So it is not that everybody is being spoken to or has been spoken to. But definitely, quite a number have been spoken to and are being spoken to.
“Our prayer is that it will yield conclusive dividends that can improve the security and well-being of our country. Look at the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland. Has it stopped some elements from doing certain things? So, don’t rule out the fact that nothing ever will happen, but the issue will be receding up till the time when we will eliminate the challenge.”