REXBURG, Idaho — Government officials and Boko Haram leaders reached a ceasefire agreement October 17 but skepticism is on the rise for both parties involved.
The government of Nigeria released a statement saying officials struck a deal with Boko Haram leaders which included a ceasefire and the release of the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls who were taken nearly seven months ago.
Nigerian government spokesman Doyin Okupe said, “A batch of them will be released shortly, and this will be followed by further actions from Boko Haram,” he said. “It is a process … It is not a question of hours and days,” CNN reports.
While praises and shouts of joy rang out, cries of disbelief overshadowed the potential safe return of girls and a break from fighting the country has endured for the last couple of years. This is because Boko Haram spokesperson has come announced they are in agreement with the Nigerian government, adding to the frustration of the Nigerian people.
The New York Times reported the reaction of former journalist Ahmed Salkida, who had close contact with Boko Haram, when he expressed his disbelief in the deal. He tweeted: “It also appears that govt is more interested in shadows and bubbles, than in substance and clear headed engagement wt d #BHideology.”
Doubt is widespread because of the lack of credibility the government has shown while dealing with the insurgent group. Announcements of ceasefires reached with the extremist group came in 2012 and 2013, The Wall Street Journal reports. The announcement this time also comes at an interesting time as President Goodluck Jonathan is running for re-election and is in need of a victory against Boko Haram as 14,000 Nigerians have perished by the hands of Boko Haram militants since Jonathan took office in 2010.
Further evidence that Boko Haram did not agree to a ceasefire: the day following the announcement by government officials, the militants attacked a mountain village that borders Cameroon. “The gunmen burned houses in the village, slit the throats of four men and went house to house searching for young women, eventually taking away around 60,” The New York Times reported from statements of Nigeria local news and Roman Catholic Bishop Stephen Mamza.
The question still remains: Was the Nigerian government announcing a legitimate ceasefire or was it a mere attempt to distract the world from all of the bad going on in Nigeria by Boko Haram?
When will the fighting stop and our girls- not just our schoolgirls- be brought back?
– Kori Withers