Former president Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday said the current level of corruption in Nigeria is assuming an unimaginable proportion and mind-boggling.
In another development, the inspector-general of police, Mohammed Abubakar, has blamed the craze for the nation’s oil wealth for the current insecurity in the country.
Obasanjo who spoke on a CNN interview programme yesterday said while the level of corruption in the country was rising, Jonathan’s government was not doing enough to stem the tide.
He also called on the federal government to apply carrot-and-stick approach in tackling threats to security in the country, arguing that the threat posed by Boko Haram is becoming increasingly unbearable and should not be taken for granted.
The sect, he said, could be given incentives to lay down their arms, but those who continue to threaten security afterwards, he said, should be punished. This, he said, would go a long way in bringing lasting peace in the country.
Appreciating other options used by the federal government, Obasanjo said no option is exhaustive, hence the need to be objective in handling the sect.
Believing in the unity of the country and refusing to see any form of trouble disuniting the nation, Obasanjo noted that “Nigeria will never split into two”. He said the nation has suffered the worst threat and came out strong. Nigeria, he said, is stronger than any group and the interest of the nation should be respected.
Speaking further, Obasanjo said that President Goodluck Jonathan “can do more” to make Nigeria a better place. Nigeria, he said, is a great nation with law-abiding citizens and the government can improve on that.
“To deal with a group like that, you need a carrot and stick. The carrot is finding out how to reach out to them,” he said. “When you try to reach out to them and they are not amenable to being reached out to, you have to use the stick.”
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.”
The Islamist militants, who operate chiefly in Nigeria’s restive north, have carried out numerous deadly attacks on mosques, churches and businesses and are suspected of having links to al Qaeda.
Obasanjo said 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 told him that the group was receiving support from other Nigerians who have resources overseas or “other organizations from abroad,” Obasanjo said.
“If they had 25% support a year and a half ago, today that support has doubled,” the former president said.
Analysts suggested that reaching out to Boko Haram might be increasingly difficult because the group has split into different factions, some with a domestic focus and others with a more pan-jihadi approach.
Resolving the issue is key to Nigeria’s progress, according to Obasanjo, who now heads an eponymous foundation that is working to promote human security across Africa.
“Boko Haram undermines security, and anything that undermines security undermines development, undermines education, undermines health, undermines agriculture and food and nutrition security,” he said.
International rights group Human Rights Watch said Boko Haram has killed more than 2,800 people.
Struggle for oil wealth behind insecurity in Nigeria - IGP
The inspector-general of police Mohammed Abubakar has blamed the craze for the control of the nation’s oil wealth for the current insurgency and other heinous crimes in the country.
Abubakar made this known yesterday in a welcome address delivered at the opening ceremony of a two-day national summit on “Security Challenges in Nigeria” with the theme, “Addressing Nigeria’s Security Challenges for Sustainable Peace and Development”.
The IG, who disclosed that the current insecurity informed a collaboration between the Nigeria Police and the Vanguard newspaper to put the summit together, said the impact was to strategise and overcome the challenges.
“The security situation in Nigeria, in recent times, has been a source of great concern to all patriotic citizens and to the international friends of Nigeria. The security challenges posed by the oil politics resonated with militancy in the Niger Delta, the rampant kidnapping in the south-east, communal, ethnic and religious crises prominent in the north; and the current terror crimes exemplified by the Boko Haram insurgency combined to inform the urgent need for a summit of this nature.
“The Nigeria Police Force is not alone in the dire quest for solution to the country’s security problems which tends to retard delivery of democratic dividends in some parts of the country. If the security problems are adequately contained, every other thing will naturally fall into its proper shape,” he said.
In his opening address, President Goodluck Jonathan represented by the minister of police affairs, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade, acknowledged that it was time for Nigerians to seriously rise up and address the security challenges confronting the nation. He expressed optimism that the “political will” demonstrated by his administration would yield the desired result in the fight against terrorism.
The chairman of the occasion, former IGP Mohammed Gambo Jimeta, in his remarks averred that the problems of insecurity currently afflicting the nation were self-inflicted and called on the ruling class to look into the plight of the suffering masses.
Jimeta further stated that unless the government of the day rises up to the occasion and ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians, the current insecurity situation may degenerate.