Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has spoken of how a budding insurgent group that could have turned deadly like Boko Haram, was crushed within three weeks by the Obasanjo administration, which he served as deputy for eight years.
Addressing Catholic Bishops Thursday in Abuja, Mr. Abubakar said the administration responded swiftly leaving many Nigerians with little or no memory of the effort.
Responding to concerns about insurgency, Mr. Abubakar said it is the duty of the political and military leadership to crush terrorists whenever and wherever they occur.
Mr. Abubakar said when he was in government with Mr. Obasanjo as president, an insurgent group, known then as Nigerian Taliban, started in the northeast, but was crushed within three weeks.
He said the administration moved so fast to uproot the insurgents that many Nigerians today do not even remember there was an insurgency.
“Our country is going through very difficult times, especially general insecurity all over the country, but particularly in the North east, which is spreading but unfortunately poorly managed,” he said.
Mr. Abubakar said he has fully reconciled with Mr. Obasanjo and that there is no animosity with his former boss.
He made the remarks in reaction to concerns expressed by the Archbishop of Owerri, Most Reverend Anthony Obinna, and his counterpart from Calabar, the Most Reverend Joseph Ekuwem.
Both clerics had expressed disappointment at the face-off between the two men when they were in power as president and vice president between 1999 and 2007.
Mr. Obinna said that in 1999, both Messrs. Obasanjo and Abubakar started well to the admiration of Nigerians, only for the people to be disappointed when rift and ill-will developed between them thereby derailing the progress of the nation.
He lamented that the political elite have failed the nation by being unable to tackle insecurity and corruption.
He asked the former Vice President to assure the nation’s Catholics that the rift is over and that such would not occur again.
Speaking on the state of the economy, Mr. Abubakar said if Nigeria had diversified and managed the economy well during the many years of oil boom, the present austerity measure would not be necessary.
Other Catholic Bishops present at the event were the Archbishop of Calabar, Augustine Ukwuoma, Bishop of Orlu, Lucius Ugorji, Bishop of Umuahia, John Okoye, Bishop of Awgu, Alfred Martins, Bishop of Lagos and John Niyiring, Bishop of Kano.
Also in attendance was the Secretary General of the Secretariat of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Reverend Father Ralph Madu.