Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has explained why Nigeria has not won the war against Boko Haram and blamed ex-President Goodluck Jonathan for the unending insurgency.
In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Lagos, Obasanjo stated that Jonathan did not take the insurgency seriously because he thought it was a device by the North to bring down his government.
While stressing that the country needed to tackle the origin of the problem rather than the symptoms, Obasanjo recalled that during his visit to Maiduguri in 2011, he learnt about the sect’s grievances which he took to Jonathan expecting him to address the issues. He said:
“I went out in 2011 to Maiduguri. I took great risk to find out what is really happening. Boko Haram, do they have grievances, if they have grievances, what are their grievances and I brought all that to Jonathan.
“Jonathan didn’t believe that Boko Haram was a serious issue. He thought that it was a device by the North to prevent him from continuing as president of Nigeria which was rather unfortunate.”
“Even when Chibok girls were abducted, it took a while for the government to believe. Now if that is the situation, you can understand why the right attention was not paid to the issue of Boko Haram when it should have been paid.”
The former President observed that Boko Haram insurgency might not end soon, noting that it stemmed from underdevelopment, unemployment and youth frustration in the North-East.
In his submission, Obasanjo noted, “Boko Haram will not be over. It started from a position of gross underdevelopment, unemployment, youth frustration in the North-East. So, we must be treating the disease, not the symptom.”
He also urged Togolese President, Faure Gnassingbe, to introduce limits on presidential terms, after huge waves of anti-government protests across the country.
Obasanjo did not respond to questions about whether Gnassingbe should step down 12 years after he became president shortly after his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, died.
“I believe he should have a new constitution that will have a limit to the number of terms that anybody can be president and he should abide by that; I believe whatever he has to do in terms of development, whatever ideas he has, he must have exhausted them by now, unless he has something new that we don’t know,” he added.
In a related development, in an interview with BBC News Pidgin, Obasanjo reiterated his stance on Biafra saying it is not the answer to the agitations by the young people of the South eastern part of Nigeria. In his words:
“Di young, young people for Southeast, dem say na Biafra, wetin dem know wey bi Biafra? But di thing be say dem no happy. Dem no happy as things dey for Nigeria and I no blame dem.
“Some people are hungry, some people no get work… de problem be say, people are fed up because wetin dem want, dem no get. Hunger dey catch dem, family dem no fit take care of”.