Nigeria’s former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, in a recent interview with CNN has said the President Goodluck Jonathan administration had not been reaching out enough to the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram. He said that Jonathan should adopt a a dual-track approach, using more of dialogue rather than just cracking down on the group.
“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,” he said during the interview.
Obasanjo said President Jonathan was “just using the stick” in his efforts. “He’s doing one aspect of it well, but the other aspect must not be forgotten.”
Obasanjo told the CNN that he had tried to reach out to Boko Haram about one- 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 must has doubled,” Obasanjo said.
He also said that resolving the issue was central to the country’s progress. “Boko Haram undermines security, and anything that undermines security undermines development, undermines education, undermines health, undermines agriculture and food and nutrition security,” he said.
In response to Obasanjo’s statement, Jonathan’s spokesman, Reuben Abati, told Punch that it was surprising that the same Obasanjo who said recently that his presidency applied force when he was confronted with similar situation in Odi, Rives State, has now turned round to accuse Jonathan of applying only the stick against Boko Haram.
He said that contrary to what Obasanjo wanted the world to believe, the Federal Government’s handling of the Boko Haram menace had been purposeful and that a lot of progress had been made.