Vanguard (Lagos)

9 January 2013

Nigeria: Jonathan's Approach to Boko Haram Faulty - Obj

Photo: WEF
Founder and President, Obasanjo Holdings Nigeria Limited, Nigeria, captured during the africa Progress Panel Report during the World Economic Forum on Africa 2011.

FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, said more could be done to reach out to the militant Islamist group Boko Haram to find out what leads it to carry out acts of violence.

Obasanjo who spoke in an interview with CNN, suggested the current government should adopt a dual-track approach rather than just cracking down on the group.

He said: "To deal with a group like that, you need a carrot and stick. The carrot is finding out how to reach out to them. When you try to reach out to them and they are not amenable to being reached out to, you have to use the stick."

Obasanjo said President Goodluck Jonathan was "just using the stick" in his efforts, noting: "He's doing one aspect of it well, but the other aspect must not be forgotten."

The former president said he had tried to reach out to Boko Haram about a year and a half ago through a lawyer who was acting as the group's proxy, and had asked if they had external backing. He said the lawyer told him that the group was receiving support from other Nigerians who have resources overseas or "other organizations from abroad.

"If they had 25 per cent support a year and a half ago, today that support has doubled," Obasanjo said.

Analysts suggest that reaching out to Boko Haram may be increasingly difficult because the group has split into different factions, some with a domestic focus and others with a more pan-jihadi approach.

Resolving the issue is key to Nigeria's progress, according to Obasanjo, who now heads an eponymous foundation that is working to promote human security across Africa.

"Boko Haram undermines security, and anything that undermines security undermines development, undermines education, undermines health, undermines agriculture and food and nutrition security," he said.

Obasanjo who spoke in an interview with CNN, suggested the current government should adopt a dual-track approach rather than just cracking down on the group.

He said: "To deal with a group like that, you need a carrot and stick. The carrot is finding out how to reach out to them. When you try to reach out to them and they are not amenable to being reached out to, you have to use the stick."

Obasanjo said President Goodluck Jonathan was "just using the stick" in his efforts, noting: "He's doing one aspect of it well, but the other aspect must not be forgotten."

The former president said he had tried to reach out to Boko Haram about a year and a half ago through a lawyer who was acting as the group's proxy, and had asked if they had external backing. He said the lawyer told him that the group was receiving support from other Nigerians who have resources overseas or "other organizations from abroad.

"If they had 25 per cent support a year and a half ago, today that support has doubled," Obasanjo said.

Analysts suggest that reaching out to Boko Haram may be increasingly difficult because the group has split into different factions, some with a domestic focus and others with a more pan-jihadi approach.

Resolving the issue is key to Nigeria's progress, according to Obasanjo, who now heads an eponymous foundation that is working to promote human security across Africa.

"Boko Haram undermines security, and anything that undermines security undermines development, undermines education, undermines health, undermines agriculture and food and nutrition security," he said.

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2013 Vanguard. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.

InFocus

Nigeria's Anti-Terrorism Strategy Criticised

Founder and President, Obasanjo Holdings Nigeria Limited, Nigeria, captured during the africa Progress Panel Report during the World Economic Forum on Africa 2011.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has faulted the government's anti-terror strategy, calling for more effort in ending the Boko Haram insurgency in the country. Read more »