•Says it will ensure peace, save the country lots of money
•Dares ex-military leaders to contest against Buhari, if…
•Junaid Mohammed, Ohanaeze, Okurounmu, rights activists, others react
By Clifford Ndujihe, Charles Kumolu, Gbenga Oke & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—THE Presidency has said that granting amnesty to Boko Haram insurgents would make them drop their arms, embrace peace, stop bloodshed and save resources for the country.
The Presidency also explained that President Muhammadu Buhari has remained silent over his second term ambition because his focus was to deliver good governance to the country.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said in an interview in Abuja that President Buhari’s achievements would give him victory in 2019, if he decides to contest.
He also told some retired army generals that had ruled the country in the past, who had advised him to drop second term ambition, to summon the courage and contest against the president, stressing that President Buhari will defeat all of them.
On the assertion that President Buhari was shielding killer herdsmen from prosecution and even begging them to accept amnesty, Shehu argued that if the terrorists should embrace amnesty, it would stop the killings in the polity.
However, some notable Nigerians, including Second Republic lawmaker, Junaid Mohammed; Senator Femi Okorounmu, NBA Vice President, Monday Ubani; Niger Delta activist, Ann Kio-Briggs, and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Opara, disagreed with government, saying Boko Haram insurgents have not demonstrated remorse to warrant amnesty.
But Garba Shehu said: “Well, I hope you also realise that the social media has brought a lot of good things to the world and it has also brought a lot of problems not only in Nigeria but everywhere in the world.
“Nations of the world are talking about regulations and control, this is happening in Germany in the UK, even the US, you see that a lot of these technology companies are being fined for infringements that they cause.
“The thing is that there is a tendency to see things from a negative point of view when your point of view is shaped and coloured by the social media.
“It’s always been heard that the default position of social media itself is to be negative, so people have turned out to ignore grand reality and project images that are very negative.
“Otherwise I wonder, this is an administration that has done extremely well and to a President who has sworn to an oath to defend the constitution and protect every life and property, it is very unfair and uncharitable to say that he will shield anybody.
“In any case, the President controls only one layer of authority, what are the governors doing? Is the social media also saying that the governors are protecting the herdsmen from the law? Are they saying the local governments are also protecting them?
“You see, it has to take everyone at various levels of authority to shield somebody from the law in those circumstances, and the President himself, his passion is for the country, this is a President whose passion is not even for the office, even when everyone is asking him to go for a second term, he is keeping quiet because his focus remains the nation and the problem of the country.
“Whoever is peddling these rumours that Boko Haram is being granted amnesty and so on, I would ask them who doesn’t want to make peace with the enemy? In any case, as it is proverbially said, all wars end up in the boardroom.
“You can defeat people technically in the field but at the end, you must come to the conference room to resolve all issues. So, if Boko Baram would lay down their arms and stop fighting and stop preaching that negative ideology, the country should be able to embrace them, welcome all of them so that they continue to live normal lives and be useful to the nation.
“What that means is that we will be saving cost, saving lives that are being lost through bombing, killing of service personnel and we will be saving money that we are using to procure weapons so that such money can go into services and infrastructure and welfare of the citizens of this country. It is a win-win situation