Posted by News Express | 27 November 2014 | 3,550 times
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obsasanjo, has said the Boko Haram terrorism was growing beyond control because of the wrong reading by President Goodluck Jonathan that the sect was put in place to frustrate him.
Obasanjo, speaking in Abuja on Wednesday at the book launch of former chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Justice Mustapha Akanbi, said: “Boko Haram is not simply a menace based on religion or one directed to frustrate anybody’s political ambition.
“It is essentially a socio-economic problem tainted with religion. It is a gargantuan danger to the nation and to all Nigerians. Initially, President Jonathan’s understanding of Boko Haram phenomenon suffered from wrong reading and wrong imputation. That is what led us to where we are today.
“It took the president more than three years to appreciate and understand that it is a terrible mix of poor education or lack of education, misinterpretation of what Islam and the Quran teach and stand for, poverty, unemployment, injustice, drug, gun trafficking, human trafficking, fallout from Libya, revenge, frustration, struggle against inequality, imitation of international terrorism leading to training and part absorption by international terrorist group or groups and general poor governance, including corruption.
“I have always maintained that solution to Boko Haram or any organisation like it lies in application of stick and carrot. We must remember that there is nexus between security and development.
“Some people have blamed the governments of the zone at the state and local government levels for the unacceptable socio-economic situation in the North-East. Of course, they must accept part of the responsibility.
“But I would rather say it is a collective responsibility and, collectively, the situation must be addressed and redressed and the beginning of redressing the situation is education.
“I appreciated the importance of education in human development, state - and nation-building, national development, employment generation, wealth creation, national unity, security and stability.
“When I had the opportunity as both military head of state and elected president, I paid particular attention to education nationally, through Universal Primary Education (UPE) as military head of state, and Universal Basic Education (UBE) as president.
“We must bear in mind that prolonged effect of Boko Haram activities will have a bearing on agricultural and food production in the North-East zone in particular and in the country in general.
“Boko Haram is dangerously wrong and we should all stand firmly against it while doing what is right to deal with it. Where there is the need for advice, let us offer it; if the need is for correction, let us make it, where there is need for socio-economic intervention, let it be applied; if it is sanction, let it be given unstintingly.”
Speaking on the economy, Obasanjo said “non-investment and disinvestment in the oil and gas sector by the major international oil companies has added its own deleterious impact.”
According to him, Nigeria’s continued heavy dependence on one commodity had not adequately prepared the country against any shock in that one commodity on the international plane.
“With the figure of $78 per barrel as benchmark, we will be in a bind if oil price falls to $75 per barrel. I am made to understand that Saudi Arabia used $68 per barrel as benchmark for its 2015 budget," Obasanjo said, adding: “Our inadequate protection of almost all local industries with heavy cost of energy has dealt a hard blow on most indigenous industries."
He lamented that the country had not adequately prepared for the rainy days in the management of proceeds from oil and gas resources, noting that “with crude oil purchase by the US from Nigeria going down by some 30 per cent in the last three years, as a result of shale revolution, things are not looking up in the oil and gas sector and hence, in the economy.”
Obasanjo stated further that “in future, we will have a budget that cannot be funded. We may have to borrow to pay the salaries and allowances. Revenue allocation to states and local governments has already drastically reduced. Capital projects at all levels of government may have to be drastically cut or stopped.”
Speaking on naira depreciation, Obasanjo said workers, particularly those in the public sector, would soon ask for pay increase, which may be justified but will sink the country deeper in the swamp.
“The scenario which may sound alarmist is hard to imagine, but the signs are there and it would appear that those who should act are dancing slow foxtrot while their trousers are catching fire,” he stated.
Obasanjo also cautioned against the crushing of the opposition by the government either at intra and inter-party levels.
In his speech, Akanbi, also a former President of the Court of Appeal, said Chief Obasanjo never interfered with the activities of the ICPC during his administration, adding that he heard and read all sorts of allegations of selective prosecution of corrupt people and wondered how the allegation came about.
He said it had become necessary to clear the air on the insinuation that the anti-graft agency was used to molest or harass innocent people by the government of Chief Obasanjo.
Justice Akanbi, whose clarifications were dotted with applause, said “I want to make it open and clear to all, that the former president, in person of Chief Obasanjo, never for once directly or indirectly meddled or interfered with the activities of ICPC during my years in office.”
He, however, lamented that the major problems bedevilling the country were greed, nepotism, religious and tribal sentiments, corruption and lack of commitment to the course of advancement of the nation.
The ex-ICPC boss called on Nigerians to pray fervently for the nation and to back up the prayers with a change of hearts, in order to get the country out of the wood.
•Adapted from Nigerian Tribune. Photo shows Ex-President Obasanjo.
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