Political Observation: Swap or no swap, Total Freedom of other 200 Chibok Girls should be Nigeria’s Priority
Two types of negotiations are involved in freedom deal.
1) Cash-for-Prisoners Exchange
2) Human-for-Prisoners Exchange
The third one-Military Action-is an option not a negotiation
The families of the 270 abducted Chibok Girls were over anxious (whether their kids were among the lucky ones) on October 13, 2016 when news filtered in that 21 of the kidnapped students had been released.
Concerned Nigerians, and the rest of the supporters of #BringBackOurGirls celebrated the homecoming of the 21 freed Chibok Girls.
It’s a jubilation for everyone and indeed the world.
It was rumored that their release followed negotiations between President Muhammadu Buhari-led government and Boko Haram brokered by Red Cross and Swiss government officials.
They say their release was a swap for Boko Haram prisoners, a claim Nigeria’s Minister of Information Lai Muhammad say wasn’t true.
Even if Nigeria’s government agreed to trade some Boko Haram commanders in her prison in exchange for the release of the 21 Freed Chibok Girls, Nigeria isn’t the first to take such action.
A government that cares about her citizens can do anything responsible enough to secure the release of her citizens in the hands of terrorists.
United States, Britain, Russian, South Korea, and other countries had engaged in this kind of exchange in the past.
In fact, South Korea is still planning to employ Cash-for-Prisoners Exchange means to free her citizens held by North Korea in the Korean War that ended in 1953.
Heads of governments do this for the love of their valued citizens.
US Vice President Joe Biden, a war veteran, told the press in 2010 why US government traded 10 Russian spies just to regain four of her citizens.
In 2014, United States President Barack Obama traded five of the most violent Afghan Taliban prisoners just for the release of a Sergeant in the US Army, Bowe Bergdahl.
Segt. Bergdahl was held captive close to five years by the Talibans before he regained freedom in May 31, 2014. The US deal is what international mediators call Human-for-Prisoners Exchange.
It’s always done for the love of your people.
So, why should the release of 4 Boko Haram commanders for 21 young girls cause controversy?
Must Nigerian political class politicise every issue?
Israel known for her war capability has had to deal with this kind of exchange. In 2011, Israel released 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was seized in 2006 by Hamas.
Paula Cocozza once pointed out that the history of human exchange as a means of currency in terrorism had been a controversial one.
“In the first phase of the American civil war, the Dix–Hill Cartel established a prisoner currency. One general equalled 60 infantrymen. Fifteen foot soldiers bought one captain.
The exchange mechanism was again plainly codified in 1962 when Francis Gary Powers, an American spy held by the Soviet Union, crossed the Glienicke bridge over the Havel river.
Rudolph Abel, a Soviet spy held by the US, walked free in the opposite direction. The crossing was repeated so many times the Glienicke became known as the bridge of spies.”—The Guardian
If 4 Boko Haram members were exchanged for 21Chibok Girls, as speculated, for the love of the innocent young school girls, swap shouldn’t be the question, but how do we secure the release of more 200 others in Boko Haram captivity?
The ruling party All Progress Change did promise during electioneering campaign that it would secure the release of the Chibok Girls kidnapped at a Chibok town of Borno State during the former president Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
I’m sure President Buhari knew the means to secure their release. So, securing their release in batches at this time shouldn’t be politicised.
While we celebrate the release of 21 of those beautiful young girls, how can Buhari secure the release of more than 200 others in Boko Haram captivity should be what we should be asking, not what are the terms.
The total release of Chibok Girls should be our focus whether President Buhari employed any of or both of the freedom methods-Cash-for-Prisoners Exchange, Human-for-Prisoners Exchange-available in international negotiation.
Kudos to the negotiators: Red Cross and Swiss government officials.
The rest of them in the captivity of Boko Haram deserve freedom. Today!
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