Nigeria’s president was grilled by CNN on events and happenings in the country, the president made note that BOKO HARAM is not linked to poverty and Nigerians are starting to enjoy stable electric supply.
The president continued by saying, the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, poses a threat to the African continent if not contained effectively, President Goodluck Jonathan said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday night.
“Definitely, Boko Haram, if it is not contained, will be a threat. Not only to Nigeria, but to West Africa, North Africa, and Central Africa and of course we know that we have element of Boko Haram link up with some of the al Qeada operating in Northern Mali and other North African countries,” Jonathan said in the nightly programme monitored in Lagos.
He said his government was totally committed to working with “other nationals and friendly governments to make sure that we contain the problems in the sub-region.”
Asked if Nigeria was prepared to contain terror attacks like the one that happened in the Algerian gas plant last week when about 37 workers were killed by terrorists, Jonathan said his administration had been working day and night to prevent such “excesses.”
“Yes, what happened in Algeria was unfortunate. That is why the government has been working day and night to make sure that we prevent such excesses,” he said.
He said the Boko Haram menace was not a product of misrule or poverty.
Jonathan said, “The sect was not borne 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’s why we call on the rest of the world to work with us and that is why we are talking about Algeria, we are talking about northern Mali and our belief is that if you allow terror to exist in any part of the world, it will not just affect that country or that state, it will affect the rest of the globe and we should not play politics with Boko Haram.”
The President denied that security forces were rounding up and killing innocent Nigerians who had nothing to do with the sect, describing the reported high-handedness of security agencies as “insinuations by some interest groups.”
When Amanpour mentioned the US Department of State as probably one of the interest groups, Jonathan demurred, noting that the department had the means of knowing the truth.
The interviewer also questioned Jonathan about his promise three years ago to ensure stable power supply in the country and he answered that his government had recorded some level of success, pointing out that every Nigerian could readily attest to the commitment of his government to stabilise power supply in the country.
He said, “I would have loved that you ask ordinary Nigerians on the street of Lagos, Abuja or any other city this question about power. This is one area that Nigerians are quite pleased with the government that our commitment to improve power is working. So if you are saying something different, I’m really surprised. That is one area that even civil societies agree that the government has kept faith with its promise.
“We have not got to where we should be and of course we know that power infrastructure is one investment that you must complete the chain before a bulb can light. You must generate, you must transmit, you must distribute and even if you have the money and the political will, you cannot do it overnight and we are working very hard, you cannot do it overnight.”
When Amanpour insisted that power outage is still a big problem, noting that she had received messages from Nigerians who expressed concerns that they might not get electricity to watch the interview, Jonathan acknowledged that his administration had not achieved the targets it set for itself and promised to deliver results by the end of the year.
The President said that foreign companies were complicit in crude oil theft in Nigeria, noting that the stolen crude was being bought by refineries abroad.
“Frankly speaking, we want the international community to support Nigeria because this stolen crude is being bought by refineries abroad and they know that the crude oil is stolen. The world must condemn what is wrong. The stolen crude is refined abroad, not refined in Nigeria,” he submitted.
Meanwhile, Jonathan has said in Geneva, Switzerland, that about half of the members of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, are being trained in northern Mali adding that they get arms from Libya.
Jonathan told Nigerians in Geneva on Tuesday night that their people back home would be sleeping with only one eye closed except the violence in the neighbouring West African country was brought under control.
He said, “If you don’t solve the problem of Mali, Nigerians will continue to sleep with one eye because the terrorists will like to move from Northern Mali to Niger, Chad and of course Northern Nigeria.
“Almost 50 per cent of the Boko Haram adherents were trained in Northern Mali. Most of the weapons they use come from Libya to Mali and then to Nigeria.”
He also lauded the conviction of a militant leader in the Niger Delta, Henry Okah, by a South African court on Monday.
He told his audience that Okah’s trial and conviction were an example of his administration’s commitment to pursuing suspected criminals till they were caught and brought to book.
“Only yesterday (Monday), one of our brothers, Henry Okah, was jailed in South Africa. If somebody commits crime, we’ll make sure we get him even it takes one month or 10 years,” he said.
Nigeria’s troops arrived in Mali on Sunday as part of the intervention force of the Economic Community of West African States.
Jonathan said on Monday that the Nigerian soldiers would not leave Mali “until democratically elected people take over the government.”
He told the Nigerians living in Geneva that the Federal Government decided to send troops to Mali in order to insulate Nigeria from the activities of the sect.
He said the deployment of troops in the West African country did not translate into Nigeria having a territorial ambition there, adding that his administration was tackling insecurity in parts of the country headlong and that the issue would soon be a thing of the past.
“Nigeria has no territorial interest in Mali. Going to Mali does not mean that we are trying to extend our territorial control to the country. No, we believe that if we don’t go there, the war going on there will affect us,” Jonathan explained further.