Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki has stated that the committee made tremendous progress in dialoguing with key members of Jama’atu Sunnah Lil da’awati wal Jihad also known as Boko Haram to end insurgency in the region.
Turaki, who is also the Minister for Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, made this known yesterday in Abuja while briefing the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) leadership on the achievements of his ministry.
While admitting that the committee never met the sect leader, Imam Abubakar Shekau during the course of its assignment, the sect sent its representatives to meet them.
“I want to assure that we have been talking with genuine members of this organization and these are people that are key as far as peaceful resolution of this matter is concerned,” the minister said.
On the challenges encountered in the course of carrying out its assignment, the minister said some fake persons showed up claiming to be members of the sect.
He said such people often showed up with a view to collecting money.
“We had seen some people, who are fake members of the insurgency who had come for the purpose of getting money.
“But we had always used the instrumentality of the security agencies and information on their data bank to verify their authenticity and membership of this organisation.’’ Mr. Turaki said.
When asked if the committee has been able to establish contact with Shekau, he said: “I think I will also ask you, where is Shekau?” adding that they were directed by President Goodluck Jonathan to identify key members of the sect and then engage them in dialogue which they have done.
He said: “Mr. President did not ask us to look for Shekau and engage him in dialogue. And it is important for Nigerians to appreciate that in matters of this nature you don’t just wake up one day even as a dialogue committee established by government and say you are discussing with the highest leadership of insurgents.
“Usually what happens is that after that we have been able to establish confidence because it is necessary, they now deployed lower rank of their membership to us, like a water testing mechanism,” the minister explained.
“They would come to us we will discuss with them, when they go back without any molestation then at the next meeting they would deploy a higher set of members. And this is how it has been going to the level where we now are, where we have started to engage key members of these insurgencies.
“But for us it does not have to be Shekau. If these are the people they are now sending as representatives for the purpose of liaising with the committee we cannot determine for them who should represent them.”
Giving an indication that the committee was in the final lap of its assignment and would soon submit its report, the minister said “About 99 per cent of the assignment has been concluded and in the next few days, probably before the end of this week, we will finish the remaining one percent.
“We will then inform the president to give us date and time to present the report”, he added.
According to Mr. Turaki, the 26-member committee which was set up in April to engage the Boko Haram sect, as part of the Federal Government’s proposed amnesty deal for the radical Islamic group, has laid a solid foundation for sustainable peace to be achieved in Nigeria stressing that the release of captives on the orders of President Jonathan has also reduced the level of insurgency in Nigeria.
The minister said 2,399 ongoing constituency projects for 2013 across the country were being implemented by 114 agencies.
He disclosed that N100billion was budgeted annually for the implementation of constituency projects and assigned to the National Assembly.
According to him, the National Assembly comes up with sharing formula amongst its members without involving the executive.
He said that each member of the National Assembly was given envelop which contains projects to be executed.