© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Aisha Wakil: I’m not afraid of Boko Haram… Allah and his angels are guiding me
Aisha Wakil, popularly known as Mama Boko Haram for her close ties to the insurgents, says she is not afraid of getting close to Boko Haram because Allah and his angels are guiding her.
Speaking while appearing as a guest on AIT’s Focus Nigeria, Wakil urged the Federal Government to show sincerity in the negotiation with Boko Haram by coming down to their level and engaging some elders whom the insurgents listen to.
She expressed optimism about the return of peace to the North East but said government must take the right steps.
“Government must come down to the roots, come down to Borno. There are people like me and you that know them and they listen to them,” Wakil said.
“They [negotiators] shouldn’t come from upstairs, inside air-conditioned rooms. You can’t stay in Abuja and be talking to somebody in Maiduguri bush or the Sambisa forest.
“They have people down there they listen to. If they [government] can come, we organise ourselves, those people will talk to them and they will come out.”
Wakil said she had earned the confidence of the insurgents because they came to the realisation that she is genuinely advocating for their best interest.
She reiterated that majority of the Boko Haram fighters had told her in confidence that they would like to come out of the bush and reunite with their families.
“They said they want to come back home, stay with their wives, in their hometowns and do genuine business. These are their words,” Wakil said.
“There was even a time I asked them, ‘do you need any country you can go to?’ They said no, we want to stay in our village.
“So it means, honestly, that they really want this peace. So let government just come down to the roots and talk to them.”
Asked whether she had ever feared for her life during her many interactions with the insurgents, Wakil said she was 100 per cent confident that they would never harm her.
“How can I be afraid? Afraid of who? No. Allah and his angels are guiding me. And why should I be afraid? I’m doing a good job, I’m doing something good, they should tap my shoulder and say well done, so why should I be afraid?
“If Boko Haram turns to Snake or Scorpion, it won’t bite me. They won’t hurt me. Nobody will hurt me.”
Narrating how she was able to gain the confidence of the insurgents during peace and dialogue programme of the past administration, Wakil said Boko Haram representatives insisted they would stay in the same hotel she stayed so that “if they die, she dies”.
“They will tell me ‘Mama we will stay with you in one hotel. If we die you die. Whatever we eat, you eat’.
“At times they will ask me, ‘come with your husband and your kids’. When we are having a meeting, this one will sit here, my daughter will sit, my son will sit, my husband will sit, Boko Haram will sit, that’s how all of us will sit. They’ll say ‘if anything happens, all of us will die’ and I agreed.
“So that built a lot of confidence in them, that if they die, I and my family will go, and I agreed.”
Wakil also said adequate attention still needs to be paid to the plight of the internally displaced persons in the North East, especially the girls and women who cannot afford even sanitary pads.
“I saw some women with my two naked eyes, using sand and old dresses, some are using ash, as (sanitary) pads,” she said. “Some will use their head-ties as pants to hold their monthly flow. It’s a horrible situation. Nigerians should come out and help us.”