Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, yesterday blamed President Goodluck Jonathan and his Niger Delta kitchen cabinet members for helping the Boko Haram menace to escalate in Nigeria, saying they have dwelt too long on the wrong belief that Northern leaders were sponsoring the sect at a time the government should have nipped the insurgence in the bud.
el-Rufai, who stated this while delivering this year’s annual lecture of the Silver Knight, Ibadan, at the Lead City University, Ibadan yesterday, said that it was high time the president and his supporters of Southern origin discarded this ‘narrative’ and adopted a multi-track approach to the insurgence which is painting Nigeria black before the international community.
According to him, Jonathan and his supporters deployed security agencies to tap the phones and monitor the activities of Northern leaders believing to be sponsoring the sect with a view to establishing their link with the Boko Haram. The former minister explained that the narrative was borne out of the experience of the Niger Delta leaders whom he accused of sponsoring militants to disturb oil production as a strategy to pursue the resource control agenda. But he insisted that rather than spending first year in office to identify key formations and operations of the sect with the aim of nipping their activities in the bud, the president and his men were chasing shadows thereby creating enormous opportunities for the sect to grow to the present dangerous level.
He said: “This narrative is believed by most Niger Delta leaders because of their own experience in organising, training and arming the militants and providing funding for MEND during the period of resource control agitations of the Obasanjo administration. Beacause there was a conspiracy of the political elite, they think the North must be doing the same. And they also feel that Boko Haram largely kills Northerners or “parasites” as one Presidential aide, Reno Omokri, tweeted; so the more they are killed, the less the burden on the ‘oil-rich hosts.’ Another presidential aide actually said these words to an old ex-OPC friend of his in London in June 2011. With this narrative wired in the brains of Jonathan’s inner circle, they spent their first year trying to link some of us in opposition to Boko Haram instead of honestly tracking the real problems.
While wasting time on us, the sect grew stronger, bolder and better trained. The first step therefore is to unwind this narrative and honestly ask the right questions.”
el-Rufai also advised the government to tackle corruption, unemployment as well as allow true federalism which will allow states to have more powers than the federal and ultimately allow states to live within their means.
Distribution of free money from the centre, he said, contributes to the funding of militants and insurgents by governors, adding that the current system which rewards less educated and less-qualified people who are politicians at the expense of hardworking, truly educated youths.
Explaining a better way to fight corruption, the former minister, who is a chieftain of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) said the country must reduce cash transactions “in addition to the unsuccessful ‘arrest-and-charge’ approach that we tended to focus on.” He added: “If all transactions are electronic, it will be harder for untraceable, illicit payments to be made. If Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s efforts in cashless banking are complemented with a national ID system that can identify, monitor and audit every resident, and his or her financial transactions when a court order is obtained, it will be harder to take bribes and launder the money.”
el-Rufai also urged the government to strengthen institutions by appointing decent people to head them, “respect their tenures and appoint successors from within rather than bring in political hacks to do jobs that they are neither qualified nor trained to do.”