President Jonathan said he has enlisted foreign support to tackle Boko Haram.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday said the objective of the terrorist sect, Boko Haram, is to ignite a war between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.
Speaking Sunday at his seventh presidential media chat, Mr. Jonathan said when Boko Haram started launching attacks at Christian worship centres, many Nigerians thought the group had a religious agenda.
But when Mosques were later attacked and several people killed, the misconception that the group was fighting against Christians changed.
“When the crisis started, many thought that they were fighting against Christians. But when they also attack Muslim places of worship, it was clear that they were out to cause a war between Christians and their Muslim brothers,” he said.
He said unlike the Niger Delta militancy which was based on a clear objective of drawing government’s attention to the problems of the region- with some pockets of criminality, he said the Boko Haram insurgents have no clear-cut agenda.
Besides, he argued that the Niger Delta militants had leaders who were willing to come out and engage in dialogue but noted that the leaders of Boko Haram are faceless people who are bent on destroying Nigeria.
“This is an activity by a few people who are bent on taking the country and the world backward,” he said.
“You cannot dialogue with people you don’t know. Even the spokesperson of Boko Haram has not come to tell us they are responsible for the kidnap of the Chibok girls.
“I was involved in resolving the crisis in the Niger Delta. Right from the beginning of my political career, I had been involved in every attempt to resolve the issue.
“When I was the deputy governor and later governor of Bayelsa State, President Obasanjo usually invited me to come and help in resolving the matter.
“I met Asari Dokubo for the first time in Abuja. The Niger Delta militants didn’t go out to the market to kill people. They had something they were fighting for.”
The president recounted an instance when he went to the creek to dialogue with the militants and his security detail wanted to accompany him with arms.
Mr. Jonathan said he convinced the security aide to drop his arms on the grounds that the militants would overpower and kill them because of their large number and their cache of arms.
He insisted that Nigerian security agencies are capable of contending insecurity in the country but noted that previous administrations did not pay adequate attention to equipping the military.
He said, “Nobody wants to hear about a bomb blast anywhere. Even when I am in the Church, I still monitor what is happening in the country.
“If you look at Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau, you find that the situation has significantly improved.
“The world is facing security challenges which we did not see in the past years. If you talk of the black race, Nigeria is the centre. Any group of people who are out to attack the black race would definitely come to Nigeria.”
Mr. Jonathan further argued that the war on terror cannot be won with government’s declaration of a state of emergency for six months or one year, adding that insurgency and terrorism are global security threats.
Speaking about undocumented foreign nationals in the country, he said relevant agencies of the government have been repatriating a lot of illegal settlers in the country.
“We know that there are illegal immigrants but we don’t want to celebrate. We are very careful and that is why we are not arresting people and celebrating it,” Mr. Jonathan said.
International collaboration to fight terror
Mr. Jonathan said the Federal Government of Nigeria has enlisted the support of many countries in its efforts to tackle the security challenges in the country.
“We have been talking to heads of states from countries that could help us. From the beginning of this crisis, the United States has been assisting us. I have personally made requests to President Obama.
“I have always asked them to send their people to come and join our troops and see what we are doing. Don’t just sit there and say that we are committing human rights abuses. We have been talking with the Prime Minster of UK, Premier of China and others.
“They have been helpful one way or the other. We have been making requests and will continue to make requests. We are trying. The security and intelligence services are trying and if you have been working in places like Yobe, Damaturu and others, you will see what is happening.
“There is only one Nigeria on earth. Even if it is one person that is being killed by this madness called Boko Haram, I feel pained.”
Mr. Jonathan also denied speculation that Boko Haram has infiltrated his cabinet, saying he never made any such statement.
“I never said Boko Haram infiltrated my cabinet. The cabinet includes the President, Vice President and the ministers. I said Boko Haram has infiltrated the government. I never mentioned cabinet.”