Jonathan, Obasanjo Trade Words Over Fight Against Boko Haram

Channels Television  
Updated January 9, 2013

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has faulted the Goodluck Jonathan-led Federal Government’s anti-terror strategy as he called for more efforts in ending the Boko Haram insurgency in the country.

Mr Obasanjo, in an interview with CNN aired on Tuesday, said the government’s approach to fighting Boko Haram would not lead to the quick resolution of the insecurity the Islamic sect has unleashed on the country since 2009.

According to him, more could be done to reach out to Boko Haram to find out what had led the sect to wage a war against the state.

He urged the administration of President Jonathan to adopt a multifaceted approach rather than just cracking down on the group.

“To deal with a group like that, you need a carrot and stick approach. 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.

The former president said President Jonathan was “just using the stick” in his efforts, adding, “He’s doing one aspect of it well, but the other aspect must not be forgotten.”

He said that 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.

The lawyer, he added, told him that the group was receiving support from other Nigerians who have resources overseas or “other organisations from abroad.”

“If they had 25 percent support a year and a half ago, today that support has doubled,” the former president said.

Asked if Boko Haram’s activity was undermining progress in Nigeria, Mr Obasanjo said, “Boko Haram undermines security, and anything that undermines security undermines development, undermines education, undermines health, undermines agriculture and food and nutrition and security,” he said.

Jonathan fights back

Apparently angered by Mr Obasanjo’s assertions that he was not doing enough to stem the activities of terrorist group, Boko Haram in Nigeria, President Jonathan lashed out at the former president, describing him as a confused and unstable man.

President Jonathan’s spokesman, Reuben Abati took to Twitter to express the anger of the presidency over Mr Obasanjo’s comment , labelling him a confused man whose counsel or view the government does not care about.

In four different tweets, Mr Abati said, “In Nov. 2012 in Warri, fmr Prez. Obasanjo accused federal govt of being soft on Boko Haram. He recommended the Odi solution: genocide.

“In Jan.2013, OBJ tells CNN Govt shd adopt a carrot and stick approach to Boko Haram. Genocide & dialogue? Where exactly does he stand?

“OBJ’s position on Boko Haram= Contradiction and Confusion writ large.

“One report says OBJ is recommending a multifaceted approach to Boko Haram. This govt certainly doesn’t need a lecture on that!

“Jonathan administration has shown creativity & purposefulness in handling the BH challenge. Hence, the progress we witness.”