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It was a meeting of former heads of state and presidents. Generals Abdulsalami Abubakar and Mohammadu Buhari sat together talking in hushed tones. Then Abubakar jumped up from his seat when he was informed that Boko Haram had rejected any kind of amnesty offer. He thought about it for sometime then his face beamed with a smile.
“What is that smile for? You have a bright idea?” Buhari asked.
“Bright idea!” General Ibrahim Babangida repeated nodding his head understandingly. “A bright idea is something every retired General should have once in a while. It could keep rust from the movable part of their retired and tired brains. I still have them from time to time. And when I do, I talk to the press.”
Abubakar nodded in understanding and said, “Sure, I have a bright idea. We should ask President Badluck Jonathan…”
“You mean ‘Goodluck,’ “ Babangida corrected.
Abubakar did not like that. “It does matter whether it is badluck or goodluck. The important thing is that there is luck in the name. As I was saying, we should ask Jonathan to declare a ceasefire.”
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo frowned, “You mean the Government should declare a ceasefire? Haba!!!”
“Yes of course! If Boko Haram rejects amnesty then the Government should declare a ceasefire, withdraw the soldiers and police from troubled states, send Boy Scouts and Girls Guide there and let us hope that Boko Haram would then give Goodluck Jonathan and his government amnesty.”
“What has the government done that they should be given amnesty? They are enforcing the law, are they not?” General Yakubu Gowon said.
“The law is an ass,” cries Buhari. “He should withdraw the armed men and apologize to Boko Haram. I even think he should call on the Independent National Electoral Commission to register Boko Haram as a political party. Then he would conduct an election and Boko Haram would be elected into office in Borno.”
“I see, I see,” Alhaji Shehu Shagari said. “You want to add Boko Haram to your collection of parties eh? Well, you cannot register a party when the people in the association have not demanded to be registered as a party.”
“Nonsense! Nonsense!!!” Buhari fumed. “Who applied to be registered as a party when Babangida formed the National Republican Convention and the Social Democratic Party? Did the people there apply to be registered? What Babangida did, Jonathan can do. He must register Boko Haram Party. I insist!”
Abubakar nodded understandingly, “I guess I support the idea. Boko Haram Party, BHP, I even like the name. Its motto can be borrowed from Winston Churchill’s speech and it would be ‘Blood, toil, sweat and tears.’”
Chief Ernest Shonekan cleared his throat to be heard, “But do they have the spread in the required number of states?”
“Sure,” Abubakar replied readily, “they have bombing presence in almost all states in the north. Their sound could be heard everywhere.”
Buhari smiled and said, “This is the smartest idea to come out of Nigeria since the invention of Burukutu.”
Shagari shook his head and said, “Boko Haram does not speak English. So what language would they speak in government?”
“They would speak in any language of their choice,” replied Abubakar. Any language is okay and all languages are good enough.”
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was horrified, “Listen, I was there before this country. I will be there after this country. It was not my will that Nigeria was created. It was in my command for a while and there was no Boko Haram. This nonsense must stop. Me I do not like Jonathan very much. I like Boko Haram even less. But register Boko Haram as a party? No where! They are a bunch of killers!”
Abubakar jumped to his feet breathing fire and sawdust, “It is a lie! They have never killed anyone. Not one person. Boko Haram are gentlemen soldiers fighting for the liberation of man. Innocent young men!”
“But don’t you read the papers?” Shagari asked in unison with Shonekan.
“I do not believe everything I read in the newspapers or hear in the radio. When I was younger the radio sets were bigger. Now they came up with this toy sets, which are too small that you can put them in your pocket. I do not trust these small radio sets – they tell more lies than the old ones,” Abubakar said.
“But what about the television pictures?” Shonekan said.
“Shit! Boko Haram only kill infidels and that does not make them killers. I tell you, these boys are very good, well behaved boys who would not hurt a fly – except the fly were an infidel.” It was not clear who said in the heat of the discussion.
Jonathan shook his head and said, “Well if it is your decision to register Boko Haram as a party, I would not object. I would send a bill to the National Assembly for debate…”
“Now listen,” it was Abubakar again. “Now listen Jack, there is no cause for alarm. No National Assembly here. I have even been thinking that we should send those Jacks home. They are not doing nothing. They are a little less useful to us than Boko Haram. At least with Boko Haram we are sure that there is a check on the population…”
“But you said they were not killing?” Shonekan interrupted. “So how are they checking the population?”
“They are not killing like that. None of us here has lost a relative before. None of my relatives have been killed. None of yours! So what is the cry about. People die everyday. Man must die… somehow.”
I felt a sharp pain. Then a jolt. I opened my eyes and glared into the concerned eyes of my wife. “You have been snoring and talking in your sleep!” she said.
I shook my head and said, “So? I am not yet aware that snoring or talking in one’s sleep is a crime. Are you aware that you have just interrupted a vibrant debate in the dream world?”