By Ebitonye Akpodigha
The United Nations has been invited to serve as a negotiator between the Nigerian Government and the Boko Haram fighters for the purpose of securing the release of the abducted schoolgirls from Chibok, Borno State in April 2014.
President Muhammadu Buhari gave his nod to this during a bilateral meeting with Secretary General of the UN, Mr Ban Ki-moon at the sidelines of the 71st UN General Assembly in New York.
Mr Buhari said and this was a show of commitment of his government to swapping the girls with the terrorists, who earlier made the demand to the Federal Government in a video released in 2016.
The President said he was willing to bend over backwards, to get the Chibok girls released from captivity.
“The challenge is in getting credible and bona fide leadership of Boko Haram to discuss with,” Mr Buhari said, adding that, “The split in the insurgent group is not helping matters. Government had reached out, ready to negotiate, but it became difficult to identify credible leaders. We will welcome intermediaries such as UN outfits, to step in.”
He reiterated that the teachings of Boko Haram were far from being Islamic, as neither Islam, nor any other religion, advocates hurting the weak and innocent.
“The fact that they kill men, women, children, and other people wantonly, and shout Allahu Akbar (God is great) shows that they do not know that Allah at all. If they did, they would not shed innocent blood,” President Buhari said.
He thanked Ban Ki-moon for the moral and material support given to Nigeria, which has enabled the country surmount many of the challenges facing her.
In his response, the UN Secretary General congratulated President Buhari on the anti-corruption war, declaring: “You are highly respected by world leaders, including myself. Your persona has given your country a positive image.”
He said the UN recognized the achievements of the Buhari administration against Boko Haram, urging that human rights be upheld always, to prevent a repeat of the scenario being witnessed in Syria.
Ban Ki-moon also thanked the Nigerian leader for his commitment to issues on climate change, adding that the government should “own the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” for the good of its citizens.