In keeping with his mastery of the art of double-talk, Jonathan declares "total war" on Boko Haram while also granting amnesty to the murderous sect

G.E. Jonathan: A confused man?
CC Global News

President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the armed forces to launch a full-scale military operation against Boko Haram and other violent organisations to put an end to their impunity in the country.

"I am determined to protect our democracy, our national unity and our political stability by waging a total war against terrorism," he said in his nationwide Democracy Day broadcast in Abuja on Thursday.

It was not immediately known what such an offensive could entail given that the North-East where most of the activities of terrorists take place has been under emergency rule and a full-scale military operation for a year now.

But a top Defense Headquarters official reiterated after the broadcast that the Special Forces and other security operatives involved in the prosecution of the anti-terrorism campaign would have a near unlimited space to operate.

The phrase "total war", however, was used by Chad's President Idriss Deby following a meeting of Nigeria's neighbors in Paris in mid-May, in which they sought a common strategy to fight the militants.

"I assure you … that these thugs will be driven away. It will not happen overnight, but we will spare no effort to achieve this goal," Jonathan said.

The President explained that the full-scale operation against the terrorists had become imperative because they had unleashed war on Nigeria.

But he still did not rule out "dialogue, reconciliation" with the insurgents if they renounced terrorism and embraced peace.

Jonathan said that Nigeria's unity, stability and the protection of lives and property were non-negotiable.

He restated the determination of his administration to protect the nation's democracy, national unity and political stability.

The President said the activities of terror groups in the country had caused debilitating pains and horror for the nation particularly the abduction of schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno, on April 14.

"It is now 45 days since the horrifying abduction of the college girls of Chibok. I share the deep pain and anxiety of their parents and guardians.

"I assure them once again that government will continue to do everything possible to bring our daughters home.

"I am determined to protect our democracy, our national unity and our political stability, by waging a total war against terrorism. The unity and stability of our country, and the protection of lives and property are non-negotiable. I have instructed our security forces to launch a full-scale operation to put an end to the impunity of terrorists on our soil.

"I have also authorized the security forces to use any means necessary under the law to ensure that this is done.

"I assure you that Nigeria will be safe again, and that these thugs will be driven away.

Amnesty for Boko Haram members

At another event organised to mark the Democracy Day for youths, the Minister of Youth Development, Mr. Boni Haruna, announced that Jonathan had offered amnesty for Boko Haram members ready to lay down their arms and embrace peace.

Haruna, who gave an overview of youths' position in the present administration's transformation agenda at an event attended by Jonathan and Vice-President Namadi Sambo, said the offer was part of youths-friendly programs and policies of the government.

The event was almost marred by power failure that happened when the President mounted the podium to present a compendium of his administration's achievements in the last one year and answer questions from youths.

Haruna said, "President Jonathan has also declared amnesty for members of the Boko Haram sect. A series of integration programs have been lined up for members of the sect who would surrender their arms and embrace peace."

He therefore called on the sect members to embrace the government's gesture by keying into the amnesty program.

The minister recalled that in the wake of youth restiveness in the Niger Delta, the government came up with a development program which provided an opportunity for the youth to express themselves and have a meaningful life.

Haruna said although the amnesty program was a fallout of a bitter national security challenge , its effect on the youth had been profound.

He disclosed that 30,000 youths that benefited from the program transformed from militants to wealth creators, employers of labor and skilled citizens.

Jonathan while answering questions from youths who attended the program tagged "A day with young leaders of Nigeria," said the military alone was incapable of stopping terrorism or any kind of radicalism alone.

Pointing out that terrorism could not succeed in any community without local support, Jonathan stressed the need for people respected by insurgents to join hands with the government to persuade them to desist from violence.

He said, "Terror succeeds with local support. It will be difficult for terror to thrive where people reject it. It is a major challenge to all of us.

"Military alone cannot stop terror or any radicalism. Terrorists have people they respect, they have community, traditional and opinion leaders they respect. All of us can de-radicalize them.

"We will through persuasive activities encourage people to shun violence."

He said the Federal Government was already working out the modalities for reintroducing moral education into the school curriculum.

This, he said, would assist in re-orientating young people.

Jonathan promised that his administration would continue to encourage young people because they are no longer leaders of tomorrow but of today.

He said youths were already leading because they decide who rules at all levels of government by virtue of their population which he put at 60 per cent of the electorate.

The President also reiterated his position that the nation's income distribution was skewed.

While saying that government was working hard to redistribute wealth, he added that one of the priorities of his government was to encourage self-employment.

Responding to a question on the need to have a youth as the Minister of Youth Development, Jonathan said, "the best person to take care of a child may not necessarily be a child."