Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Nigeria: Bill Clinton Counters Jonathan, Insists Poverty Behind Boko Haram, Ansaru Insurgency

L-R; Governor Babatunde Fashola, President Goodluck Jonathan and President Bill Clinton

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said Tuesday Nigeria's challenge of terrorism in the north was being fuelled by extreme poverty that increases by the day, an evaluation he once offered during a previous visit to Nigeria. It is also an evaluation Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan hates to hear.
Mr. Clinton said Nigerian leaders must share the country's resources equitably, and develop the country's human resources to stem extremism that has seen bombings, shootings and abductions escalate mainly in the northern states where extremist groups, Boko Haram, and Ansaru, thrive.
"You have to somehow bring economic opportunity to the people who don't have it. You have all these political problems -- and now violence problems -- that appear to be rooted in religious differences and all the rhetoric of the Boko Harams and others. But the truth is the poverty rate in the north is three times of what it is in Lagos," the former president said.

Mr. Clinton remark must have irritated President Jonathan who has repeatedly dismissed poverty or misrule as responsible for the surging terrorism and violent crimes in the North of Nigeria.
In his recent infamous interview with CNN's Christian Amanpour, Mr. Jonathan vehemently objected to the suggestion that widespread poverty, massive corruption and misrule were the possible root causes of terrorism in Nigeria.
"Boko Haram is not as a result of misrule; definitely not," an agitated Mr. Jonathan said during the interview. "And sometimes people feel like it is a result of poverty; definitely not. Boko Haram is a local terror group."
But Mr. Clinton said clearly Tuesday, not minding the discomfort his comment might cause the Nigerian government, that the administration will have to cut down inequality and lift more people out of poverty if it truly wants to eradicate extremism.
He said Nigeria needs to adopt a political structure that gives more power to the local and state governments, to decentralize governance and deliver prosperity to the rural areas.
"You have about three big challenges. First of all, like 90 per cent of the countries who have one big resource, you have a number of ways with your own money. It shows you have different ways. Now you are at least not wasting the natural gas, you are developing and selling it through the pipelines. You have to do better job of managing the natural resources," Mr. Clinton said.

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