The Negotiator is a 1998 American action thriller film directed by F. Gary Gray. It stars Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey as two expert hostage negotiators and Chicago police lieutenants.
The film was released in the United States on July 29, 1998, receiving generally positive reviews from critics and grossing $88 million worldwide. Don't get it twisted, the issue to be discussed here is not similar to this famous movie.
Critics and international diplomacy experts say, the employment of a negotiator in a crisis situation is a sign of failure of government or whoever employed the negotiator in it's duties. This is however debatable.
Sheikh Ahmad Abubakar Mahmoud Gumi the fiery Islamic scholar id facing similar criticism over his self assumed role of "A Negotiator" even as critics prefer calling him "The Mediator"
Gumi has taken it upon himself to speak with the leadership of the bandits who have been carrying out all manners of crimes in the country.
He has held meetings with them. He has spoken about these meetings. He knows their whereabouts. He knows them in person having met them one on one in more than two occasions.
Many are still troubled and wondering how a single individual and a cleric for that matter who is not a government official and doesn't represent government interest (at least in the early stages of his meetings with the bandits) would volunteer himself without any support from government whether financial or otherwise to discuss on behalf of the country with the bandits.
But lately we hear that government has picked interest in Gumi's exploits to the point that he is now enjoying government patronage in this business of mediating and negotiating with bandits on behalf of the Nigerian government and people. Finance is not a problem as no amount spent on peace keeping or security issue is too much.
Well, it could be argued that in a situation whereby government itself seems overwhelmed by insecurity and the acts of banditry, someone who thinks, feels or assumes he or she has the means to assist could step forward to help his or her people or country.
Perhaps, we should tag Sheikh Gumi a "Concerned Nigerian" or a "Patriot" who is tired of the killings and kidnappings in the country and wanted a positive step and action to be taken.
However, questions are arising after Gumi's meetings with the bandits. Nigerians are asking how come the Sheikh knew or knows the whereabouts of the bandits but security personnel and agents with high intelligence network, information, facilities and gadgets cannot locate their hideouts or abode?
They further ask, where were the security personnel when Gumi was holding the meetings with the bandits? Again, how workable are Gumi's proposals, solutions before or through government?
Gumi proposed amnesty. But in the face of continuous killings, kidnappings and other acts of banditry how possible could such proposal work? His talk about ransom as it concerns the activities of the bandits is most unfortunate.
Gumi's body language in his comments after discussing with the bandits which critics interprete to mean a huge support for the bandits cast a dark shadow to the whole process of negotiation or mediation.
Some people say Gumi's views and proposals favour the bandit and gives them the myth and cover of invincibility.
They opine that ordinarily, Gumi should be on government side in his discussions.
But government is not seeing from this point. The body language of government suggest that Gumi is doing his best for the overall interest of the country.
Whatever the outcome of this "truce" or it's move is, one thing is certain, the bandits have been handed a lifeline of recognition. Though, some voices from the North say, amnesty should be the best solution...but it is only in Zamfara that it has been embraced visibly even if the number of bandits is few.
Bottom line, it appears that majority of the bandits are enjoying the money they make from kidnappings which cannot be compared to any other business...not even the sales from cows.
Those who have withdrawn from terrorism in Borno to join the new wave of kidnappings are posing more danger than today. They have changed the course from insurgency to banditry which offers bigger and better pay.
In this situation, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to stop this well-paying business irrespective of the danger inherent against the nation. But do they even care? Do they care about the Nigerian nation?
This is one thing Sheikh Gumi must find out if, his negotiation continues or must continue