Obasanjo: FG’s Failure to Compensate Boko Haram, Escalated Insurgency

  •  Monguno calls for coordinated efforts to end extremism

The former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has alleged that the refusal of federal government to pay compensation to members of the Boko Haram sect as ordered by the court at the early stage of its formation under Mohammed Yusuf, was responsible for the escalation of violent extremism.

Obasanjo disclosed this in Abuja at a two-day national workshop on preventing violent extremism, organised by Club De Madrid (CdM) in collaboration with the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the European Union (EU).

He attributed the escalation of insurgent activities in the North East and concomitant high cost to human and economic life of people of the region to a disproportionate use of ‘stick’ rather than ‘carrot’ in quelling the insurgency.

The elder statesman who is a member and Nigerian representative of CdM, which is a Club of former presidents said said when Boko Haram’s founder, Yusuf, realised that his followers were bugged down by poverty and youth unemployment, he decided to find solutions to their needs.

According to him, the disproportionate use of force as against the conciliatory solution, was partly to blame for escalation of insurgency in the entire region, adding that counsels given to the contrary were largely ignored.

He insisted that hat government use of the “stick” approach, drove the adherents to violent extremism.
Obasanjo said that Mohammed Yusuf who founded the group Boko Haram was a scholar who wanted good things for his people but was rebuffed by the authorities.

He said: “Anybody you talk to in Maiduguri, where Boko Haram festered like a bad sore, will tell you that the man, who reared it, Mohammed Yusuf, was…learned in Islamic religion, and a good orator and preacher. When he was confronted with the poverty and lack of job opportunity for his followers, he decided to try and find solution. “

On whether the government did what it ought to do to nip it in the bud, the former president said “no.”
“What were the solutions he found? Hate preaching and being lawless within the community…”

Also speaking, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno(rtd), said addressing violent extremism requires a coordinated, comprehensive approach that addresses underlying structural and economic problems.

Monguno added that nations should as well significantly improve their capacity in securing their borders while denying terrorists mobility and safe havens.

“This approach must necessarily be anchored on continued political and economic growth and improvement, including good governance, strengthening institutions, especially the criminal justice system, and increasing access to jobs and education opportunities for a bulging youth population, build an inclusive administration that takes into account yearnings and aspirations of all,” he said.

The NSA traced the rise of violent extremism and terrorism which swept through the sahel region to events in Libya and Mali which he said emboldened radical and criminal elements in the subregion, increasing their access to sophisticated weapons
He said the theme of the workshop is quite appropriate as it will add to the growing body of knowledge that would shape national, regional and global policy in tackling the many challenges of violent extremism.