Obasanjo O

Obasanjo: Boko Haram Founders Said Poverty, Unemployment Birthed Insurgency

Olusegun Obasanjo obj

On Friday, former president Olusegun Obasanjo disclosed that the Boko Haram founders had told him that in the early stages of the insurgency in the North-East, poverty and unemployment had driven them into crime.

However, he cautioned that if the nearly 20 million children who are not in school are not immediately addressed, they will serve as a breeding ground for future members of Boko Haram.

He made these remarks at a ceremony in Lagos marking the publication of his daughter, Dr. Kofo Obasanjo-Blackshire’s book, “Pillars of Statecraft: Nation-Building in a Changing World.”

In response to a query from a member of the audience about why government policies had recently shifted from being people-centered to being more political, he claimed that one of the main issues facing the nation was the search for scapegoats for its difficulties.

In addition, he claimed, “I said I wanted to meet with the members of the group to talk to them and find out what they wanted during the early days of Boko Haram, when the man who began the movement was allegedly assassinated.

“When I spoke with their representatives, I learned that all they wanted was a better life for themselves. Is it our fault that they desire a better life for themselves?

“They claimed to adhere to Sharia Law. I assured them that Nigeria has no issues with Sharia. Our constitution contains it.

The former president claims that several of the rebel group’s members admitted to him that they had attended college but were jobless.

“Do we blame them if they don’t have jobs after four years?” he said. Do they not have a right to support themselves? This comes down to politics, which is one of the Ps of nation-building and talks about leadership and governance.

“Everything else will go haywire if that leadership is not properly taken care of,” he warned.

He further stated that Nigerians must learn to accept responsibility for their own actions rather than blaming others.

“We must ask, ‘What do we do with our people?'” he added. How are they to be raised and valued? How are they valued by us?

Over 20 million of our youngsters are not enrolled in school. Google the number of nations with fewer than 20 million people. Do we not worry about that? Are you assuming that Boko Haram won’t exist tomorrow?

“Those are the building blocks for tomorrow’s Boko Haram. That ought to worry us. The phrase “externally induced” should not be used. Does poverty also have external causes? Our politicians chose poverty, consciously or unconsciously. If we say no, then the answer is no. A yes vote would result in a yes vote.

The elder statesman, Obasanjo, who participated in the panel discussion, emphasised what he called “The Five P’s of Nation-Building,” or population, prosperity, protection, politics, and partnerships.

In response to Kofo’s introduction of the sixth P, prayer and pleasing God, and the question of whether Nigeria had become failed, failing, or weak, he remarked, “I take the situation of our states at this time as work-in-progress. Before we complete the statehood process, we are powerless to take any action.

Obasanjo claimed that the West was aware of Nigeria’s flaws and that when leaders reveal those weaknesses, they take advantage of them. He cited an encounter he had with a previous World Bank president while serving as Nigeria’s military head of state.

Every state has a certain degree of vulnerability, he continued. Even America is not perfect. My American friends and I used to make fun of the idea that God sent Trump to them as a reminder that they are also people and that we are, in many ways, similar.

He continued by saying that in order for Nigeria’s democracy to function, the nation must learn how to manage its variety. He also said that all other types of administration, such as autocracy, plutocracy, gerontocracy, etc., do not last for very long.

In her statement, Kofo said that she had enrolled in the programme on her father’s recommendation after expressing a wish to help people during a trip in 2017.

As a young adult, I was outraged by the injustice and ongoing corruption I saw in Nigeria, she said. During chats, the gap between the nation’s resources and the common Nigerian’s standard of living caused me to stand up in fury and frustration,” she added.