Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has said that Boko Haram scourge was escalated at inception because of the refusal of the Federal Government to obey a court order to pay compensation to the sect after the extra-judicial murder of Mohammed Yusuf.
Obasanjo was speaking at a two-day workshop on preventing violent extremism, organised by Club De Madrid, CdM, in collaboration with the Office of National Security Adviser.
He said the disproportionate use of force was partly to blame for escalation of the insurgency in the entire region, adding that counsel given to the contrary were largely ignored.
He insisted that government’s use of the “stick” approach, drove the adherents to violent extremism.
Obasanjo said the late Mr. Yusuf who founded the Boko Haram was a scholar who wanted good things for his people but was rebuffed by the authorities.
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…
The former president said he has always advocated the stick and carrot approach to addressing such grievances and insisted that government approach to deal with problem was faulty.
The narrative became the stick, and he knocked at the door and the door was not opened, he went legal, some of his followers went legal; they got compensation government did not pay. Their members where being hunted and hounded, so they went into violence and that violence has festered to what we have today.
Also speaking, the National Security Adviser, NSA, Babagana Mongonu, said addressing violent extremism require a coordinated, comprehensive approach that addresses underlying structural and economic problems.
“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 .
“We must be in anguish to see how within a very short period our communities have suffered from attacks, bombings, including suicide bombings and kidnappings.
While we are in pain we cannot afford to despair and not ask the right questions. Our finding points to the fact that these groups, especially Boko Haram believe they are waging a Jihad. Boko Haram is against the constitution, against nationhood, education and democracy and believe that Muslims should not work in government, nor co-exist with non Muslims.”
“Understanding these violent narratives is a precondition to effectively countering them. Indeed, Late Sheikh Adam Jaafar and Sheikh Awwal Albany left behind detailed counter narratives against Boko Haram, which deconstructed the building blocks of violent extremist ideology preached by Boko Haram.”