The origin of the phrase ‘we do not negotiate with terrorists’ is largely unknown, but the term has crept into the constitutional lexicon of many countries. Nigeria however appears to think otherwise and sees nothing wrong with meeting demands of terrorists to broker peace. While this may look harmless on the surface, it brings to question the issue of efficiency and sustainability.
Prior to the last presidential elections in Nigeria, there were increased tension in the country following the kidnap of 276 school girls from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok on April 21, 2014 by Boko Haram terrorists. Top campaign promise of then opposition party, the All Progressive Congress was that if elected, her candidate – Mohammadu Buhari, a retired Army General will ‘crush’ the Boko Haram insurgents; and come March 29, 2015, Buhari was declared winner of the elections.
The first set of 21 girls was released on October 13, 2016 and another set of 82 girls were released on May 6, 2017. This was received with great joy, prompting many to term it ‘the greatest achievement of any president ever to rule the country’. The Wall Street Journal would later reveal that the government paid a total of €3 Million in addition to releasing 5 top Boko Haram commanders from custody as ransom for the girls.
Photo Credit: BBOG
Fast forward to February 19, 2018, the Boko Haram insurgents struck again and this time, it was the Government Girls Technical Science College, Dapchi, Yobe State and 110 school girls were kidnapped. This raised concerns to why the same abductors will kidnap 110 school girls barely 9 months after releasing 103 of those earlier abducted. Coming at a time when the government had assured Nigerians that the days of insurgency were over and there were ongoing talks with the terrorists to release the remaining girls, Nigerians were enraged.
Like chapters of a fiction novel, on March 21, 2018, 101 of the kidnapped 110 kidnapped Dapchi girls were released. Sahara Reporters revealed that the government paid €5 Million in addition to releasing an undisclosed number of terrorists in custody and agreement to cease fire as ransom.
Speaking recently at the International Advisory Council Meeting held at the United States Institute for Peace in Washington D.C. on March 20, 2018; U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, John Sullivan revealed that the Nigerian government had also agreed that the girls ‘are not to be allowed to go back to school’.
With a total of 118 school girls still uncounted for, €8 Million paid in ransom, an undisclosed number of Boko Haram insurgents freed and agreement with the terrorists to keep young girls from school; how efficient is Nigeria’s terrorism model because according to famous Isreali politician, Naftali Bennett, “when you negotiate with terrorists, you get more terror”. We hope this is not the case, but only time will tell.