Ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo has disclosed he did all he could to help immediate past president,Goodluck Jonathan ,curb the Boko Haram menace.He said the problem was Jonathan saw it as a northern agenda against him..Excerpts from interview with Premium Times
They were turning Boko Haram to a religious issue, it is not a religious issue. He was seeing it as a northern plan, it wasn’t. It was a menace waiting to happen, and he didn’t see it that way, which was unfortunate… I did everything I could to help him. Look, mine is to give what I believe is genuine advice from the position that I see things and I understand. Now any leader can then decide what to do. You see, the thing is that no leader can say he is short of advice in Nigeria. Unless he doesn’t want to listen. But then, when you get the advice, you do whatever you like with it.
Do you think that can still be done?
You know, there is always time for a thing. The time that I went to Maiduguri, and it was after that time. Actually, my candid advice to Jonathan, if he had acted then, I don’t believe that Boko Haram would have gone against him. Jonathan had a problem. He believed that Boko Haram was a device of the north to prevent him from having a second term. That’s all. That is what… any other thing, forget it. How is it that Jonathan was told by 8 o’clock in the morning after the night that Chibok girls were abducted, and there was no reaction. As I said in my book, I called one Philip Madu to come and brief me on what happened. And if there had been reaction within 72 hours, they would have got, if not all, most of those girls. At what stage did Jonathan and the governor of Borno speak about Chibok?
Let me tell you something that happened during my time. I heard on a Friday, I think we were to have an election on the Saturday. I can’t remember which election, and in Kano, one man was leading his sect in the mosque, 5:30 a.m., he was shot dead. IGP (Inspector General of Police) told me. I phoned the governor immediately, and said ‘what are you doing? Have you heard this?’ He said ‘yes, when the day breaks.’ I said ‘when day breaks? You? Out now.’
Now, on a Friday, a Muslim cleric leading his own flock being shot? It’s incendiary for anything in Kano. And you know, they would have gone into Sabon Gari. That is the way reactions to incidents should take place. And because of that reaction, we didn’t have any incident.
There wasn’t Boko Haram as Boko Haram. It was after I left that Muhammadu Yusuf actually called… and that’s how they got the name Boko Haram. He called some of his followers. Because he had following, some of them graduates. And then he said, ‘Look, bring your certificates. When did you leave university?’ He himself he’s not an illiterate. He had college education. ‘When did you finish university? ‘Three years ago.’ ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Nothing.’ ‘Your education is useless, tear your certificate.’ Some of them did, some didn’t. That’s how the name Boko Haram came, they don’t call themselves Boko Haram.