by Isi Esene
The Wednesday night interview granted by President Goodluck Jonathan to CNN’s Christian Amanpour continues to elicit reactions from observers.
The president was quizzed on the present state of electricity supply in the country, endemic corruption, insecurity, and particularly the menace of terrorism as exemplified by the Boko Haram Islamic sect.
In his response to a question about the origin of the Boko Haram group, the president denied that the activities of the group was borne out of misrule and poverty calling for the assistance of the international community in effectively tackling the insecurity challenge.
“The sect was not born out of misrule, definitely not; sometimes people feel it is a result of poverty, but no. Boko Haram is a local terror group and that is why we call on the rest of the World to help us,” Jonathan said.
This is how the Punch Newspaper reports it:
The Convener of the Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, disagreed with claims by the President.
Mohammed said in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents that it amounted to begging the issue for the President to deny the link between poverty, misrule, bad governance and general insecurity.
The member of parliament in the Second Republic, said, “I don’t agree with him (Jonathan). If he denies that poverty, bad governance and misrule right through history is not responsible for violence, then let him tell us what is.
“If he says it is political, everything that happens in a political environment is political. What he should now tell us is if poverty is not an issue and if bad governance is not responsible for part of our problems in Nigeria, let him tell us whether or not these are political.
“In any case, if indeed what is responsible for the violence and insecurity in the country is politics, what is the solution to it?
“What is he planning to do? What are his own ideas of dealing with this problem? Or is he saying that because they are political, we should all stop playing politics?”
Also, the Executive Director of Civil Rights Congress, Mallam Shehu Sani, faulted Jonathan’s assertion that the Boko Haram insurgency was not a product of misrule and poverty.
Sani, in a separate telephone interview with one of our correspondents, said the President’s assertion demonstrated his lack of understanding of the issue.
Sani said, “What we should understand clearly is that the President is completely lacking in knowledge and grasp of the situation on the ground.
“And one comment after another, he has completely exposed his ignorance about the root causes and solution to the Boko Haram violence.
“The emergence and sustenance of the Boko Haram violence is remotely connected to the years of destruction, injustice and iniquity in the northern part of Nigeria.
“The major foot soldiers of the group are clearly people who are from the lower ladder of the society.
“It is not possible to find people who are economically comfortable engaging in violence.”
When asked about the privileged background of the underwear bomber, Abdulmutallab, Sani said, “That is Mutallab as an individual but this is a group. Mutallab acted as an individual; he acted alone.
“He enjoyed privileges and got connected to a foreign terrorist group, what we are talking about is a homegrown terrorist group.
“I am sure those who are being arrested are foot soldiers only; you don’t see people from the middle class or the upper class.”
On his part, the spokesman for the Congress for Progressive Change, Mr. Retime Fashakin, said Boko Haram was a result of the Peoples Democratic Party’s misrule.
He said, “Most probably, Boko Haram evolved out of the hopelessness of PDP’s misrule in the last 13 years. A hegemony that refused to reduce the burgeoning army of unemployed youths is definitely stoking the fire of discontent in the land.
“Starting from the Obasanjo regime to date, Nigeria’s political economy has always been driven to satisfy the whims and caprices of the Breton Wood institutions and their choking economic prescriptions.
“Do you now see why this will naturally encourage people’s discontent? If you understand the fact the Nigeria has about six times the income in the last 13 years than between 1960 and 1998, then you will come to terms with profligacy embedded in the PDP brand. These resources have been frittered away through legendary corruption and anti-people schemes.”
National Chairman, Action Congress of Nigeria, Chief Bisi Akande, who spoke through his media assistant, Mr Lani Baderinwa, on Thursday, asked rhetorically, “If poverty and misrule are not the cause of Boko Haram, what then is it?”
“Majority of Nigerians believe Boko Haram is caused by poverty while many people believe it is due to the jostle for 2015 presidential ticket within the Peoples Democratic Party,” he said.
An online information network, Conscience Reports, on Thursday in a statement made available to journalists by its Chief Executive, Mr. Eneruvie Enakoko, said the CNN interview had exposed the President’s lack of touch with the realities of the nation.
“The Amanpour interview further revealed that the President is neither in charge nor on top of issues; he seems to have lost touch with reality, and he clearly has lost control, because the Nigeria he spoke of last night (Wednesday) certainly does not exist; it exists only perhaps in his dreams,” Enakoko said.
He said the President was “at best untruthful” in answering questions from his interviewer.