2019 Nobel Peace Prize: Why Abiy, Not Buhari?

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, wearing a white coat bearing the traditional Kafficho colours of red, green and blue, address the crowd in Bonga, the main town in Kaffa province, some 449km south west of the capital Addis Ababa, on September 15, 2019. - Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed pleaded for patience during a visit on September 15, 2019, to leaders of the latest ethnic group pushing to form a breakaway region. The bid by the Kafficho ethnic group to form a new federal state risks further destabilising Ethiopia's diverse southern region, which just two months ago was rocked by violence stemming from a similar campaign by the Sidama ethnic group. Ethiopia is currently partitioned into nine semi-autonomous regions. The constitution requires the government to organise a referendum for any ethnic group that wants to form a new entity. (Photo by MICHAEL TEWELDE / AFP) (Photo credit should read MICHAEL TEWELDE/AFP/Getty Images)

It was announced that the 2019 prestigious Nobel Peace Prize was won by Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed Ali which should offer some insights to President Muhammad Buhari and those on the corridors of power that fire the shots in Nigeria.

Nigeria, as one of the most buffeted and ethnoreligious crises-ridden countries in the world, should not always hesitate to follow the footsteps of the African legend, Nelson Mandela of South Africa to achieving piece no matter the consequences involved.

Mandela was the arrowhead for a peaceful transfer of power from white minorities to the black majority, in South Africa and the total collapse of the obnoxious apartheid system of government-imposed on South Africa for decades by the Dutch. Despite his long incarceration of 27 years in Robben Island maximum-security prison, his inhuman treatment, etc, loss of some of his comrades in the struggle, Mandela walked out of prison displaying a rare characteristic of an average and courageous man. No exhibited animosity, no individual hatred or bitterness against his oppressors. Instead, he chose to work with his oppressors led by former Prime Minister P. W. Botha so as to effect peaceful changes within the apartheid system, enthrone democracy and chart a new course for South Africa.
As history has shown over and over again, dialogue rather than violence and engagement in wars remains the best way to solve conflicts and misunderstandings.

In 2012, Nigeria declared war against Boko Haram out of ignorance and wrong perceptions of the modus operandi of the dreaded sect and its preparedness for any sort of offensive against their ideology. Nigerian military under the former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Iherijika Azubuike and with the hurried approval of the then Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, former President Goodluck Jonathan, took an offensive to the doorstep of the already prepared enclaves of Boko Haram scattered within the North-east sub-region, Kogi and few other states.

It is over 10 years today, Nigerian soldiers and other security agencies directly involved in executing the war have only succeeded in degrading Boko Haram but yet to defeat it despite its huge budgetary allocation. From what oozes out from the battlefield since the start of the war, a rough estimate of over 2000 Nigerian soldiers was posted to their ancestors by the insurgents. That figure was probably before Boko Haram became an affiliate of the Islamic State of West Africa, ISWA.

If the sincerity of purpose has any meaning of recognition in the present government led by President Muhammadu Buhari, why is the ongoing war with Boko Haram necessary? What were the remote causes of the violence that metamorphosed to full-scale war? Who were the brains behind the violence that led to war? If the captured founder of Boko Haram, Muhammed Yusuf had been alive, could there have been any war with his Sect?

Then who murdered him to hide exposure from complicity? When the DSS raised an alarm in 2009 on the suspicious activities of the Sect, what happened? Was there any positive action from those in power to tame the tide?

The first and second world wars were resolved on the dialogue table. It is important to remind Nigerians of the fact that the ‘man of muscle’ is not really the strongest but can be strong physically, and may have no inner strength to derive real power that originates from the Omnipotent.

The government has the resources and all it takes to fight a war but does the government have those with the required courage, determination, and passion to win the war?

Peace secured through violence or war has never been enduring and is always liable to collapse sooner than later, as is equivalent to peace of the graveyard and indeed, it brings in its wake other evils such as double hatred, distrust, and loss of confidence because it did not arise from mutual respect. The concept of master/servant among human beings is anathema to the human spirit even though the conflict germinating from there is often suppressed in subtle ways. The man who relies on violence and wars to get on is always tagged as the last born of Satan, fearful and always afraid of his shadows and never at peace with himself.

From what I read of the citation on Prime Minister Abiy, he embarked on sincere peace initiatives with those aggrieved groups within his country right from the time he assumed office. He sought to engender peace not only in Ethiopia but also in surrounding countries of Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan.

As can be seen from the new Nobel Laureate, the quest for peace should be followed with upholding of fundamental human rights, enthronement of democratic rights and governance, including recognizing the role of all without strings in the development process as well as tackling corruption; not forgetting reconciliation with Boko Haram and other ethno-tribal groups and agitators of secession from the federation that are silently disuniting the entity called Nigeria.

It is noteworthy that some states battling the insurgency, kidnappings, and banditry are exploring the option of dialogue and sincere negotiation with the bandits. However, this seemingly new approach should be anchored on a genuine mutual desire for peace, love, and justice.

If former President Jonathan and his security goons under the late Gen. Andrew Azazi had continued with the efforts of dialogue that started to yield fruits and President Buhari had subscribed to the idea of dialogue with Boko Haram not minding that he was a military general, the issue of Boko Haram could have been history by now. There are those that command respect from the insurgents that can be used to pursue the terrorists to accept dialogue with the government for a way out of the mess. But, those that feed fat from the unfortunate situation may not be interested to see it ending. The atrocities of Boko Haram against humanity has been turned to a lucrative business by those saddled with the task of ending it.

Nigeria has ‘wasted’ a fortune fighting a baseless war that is yet to be over. But is the war all that necessary for Nigeria? Why should the government not try the option of dialogue? Who benefits from the baseless war? Who is losing and who is gaining? Boko Haram, or Nigeria? Boko Haram as rightly captured by Desert Herald Newspaper has nothing to lose in the war because it is wretched and easily sources its needs. Desert Herald captured the exact situation of things in its latest online editorial comment that was spiced with videos.

If President Buhari had dialogued with Boko Haram, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), etc with a genuine intention for peace in Nigeria and the West African sub-region, he could have shared the Prestigious Nobel Peace Prize with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali of Ethiopia than approving purchase of deadly weapons to fight a baseless war that has defied solution due to insincerity, incapacitation, and corruption.

Muhammad is a journalist and commentator on National Issues

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