The Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North on Tuesday submitted its final report to President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House, recommending that an Advisory Committee be set up to further dialogue with the insurgents.
Sequel to escalation of crisis in the northern part of Nigeria occasioned by frequent deadly attacks by the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, President Jonathan set up the Dialogue Committee headed by the Minister of Special Duties, Tanimu Kabiru-Turaki, to establish dialogue with the insurgents.
The committee, which had earlier submitted a preliminary report, ought to have concluded its assignment in August.
It however requested for three months extension which the President granted.
In its final report, the Turaki-led Committee recommended that a Victims Support Fund be set up but to be managed by a new agency to assist victims of the various attacks.
Turaki told Jonathan that the leadership of Boko Haram refused to dialogue with the committee despite spirited efforts, but added that some of the members appeared before the committee and expressed readiness to pursue the dialogue option.
He said: “Some of our difficulties in having a productive dialogue include the refusal of their leaders to submit to dialogue.
“However, many of the key members of the insurgent,s both in detention and at large, have positively responded to contacts and have accepted the dialogue option as capable of full resolution of the conflict.”
The committee also noted that absence of deterrent measures to punish perpetrators of violence has promoted impunity.
It also identified proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country as exacerbating conflicts and circle of violence across the country.
Responding, Jonathan ruled out the issue of compensation for the victims of violence but assured the committee that government would find a way of assisting them.
He also agreed that there is the need to set up an advisory committee for continuous dialogue, adding: “You have made recommendations.
“One of them you have suggested the setting up of an advisory committee on continuous dialogue.
“This I also believe in.
“We always say that even in war situations, finally, people must discuss at the conference table to make sure that people live in peace.
“Force alone, no matter how, cannot bring peace.
“People must be willingly ready to leave in peace.
“We agree with you that even though this committee is today winding down its activities, we need to set up a follow up committee that will concentrate on dialogue so that some of these issues you raised, that committee will be able to anchor them properly, working with other departments of government.
“We also noted the suggestion about the victims’ support because that is one of the terms of reference.
“How will government help to see that we can assist.
“Government is not going to compensate.
“It is not an issue of compensation but how do we assist people who have suffered to get back to one business or the other?
“Incidentally, we have security council meeting because this committee was an offshoot of the Security Council and we will review some aspects of this report and probably set up a team to look at it and work out a planned programme in terms of implementation of the recommendations.”
President Jonathan thanked members of the committee, expressing optimism that the various recommendations contained in the report would assist in bringing insurgency to a stop.
His words: “Though we can’t say that we have won the war.
“But listening to the address by the chairman, we believe that the document you have submitted will help us with the follow up action.
“Finally, we will be able to bring the issue of the excesses of the Boko Haram to a close.
“This is a country that never knew terror.
“Some countries have been passing through terror for years even before the Boko Haram came on board.
“But within the short period Boko Haram is operating, globally, it is being classified as one of the most deadly terror groups.
“It is quite unfortunate that the country will get to this level but with your report and the commitment of the security and intelligent services, we believe that we will bring this situation under a reasonable control,”