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Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president, claimed on Friday that the terrorist organization’s founders told him that poverty and unemployment were what inspired Boko Haram members to commit crimes during the early stages of the North-East struggle.
However, he cautioned that if the nearly 20 million children who are not in school are not immediately addressed, they will serve as a breeding ground for future members of Boko Haram.
The former President made this assertion on Friday at the launch of a book titled, ‘Pillars of Statecraft: Nation-building in a changing world’ authored by his daughter, Dr Kofo Obasanjo-Blackshire, at an event in Lagos.
In response to a query from a member of the audience about why recent government measures had become more political than people-centered, he stated that one of the main issues facing the nation was the search for scapegoats for its difficulties.
He stated further, “During the early days of Boko Haram, when the man who started the movement was said to have been killed, I said I wanted to meet with the members of the group to talk to them and know what they wanted.
“I met with their representatives and found out that they needed nothing but a better life for themselves. Can we blame them for wanting a better life for themselves?
According to the former president, some of the members of the insurgent group told him that they went to school but had no jobs.
He added, “Do we blame them if after four years, they have no jobs? Are they not entitled to a livelihood? This boils down to one of the P’s of nation-building – politics – which talks about governance and leadership.
“If that (leadership) is not properly taken care of, every other thing will go haywire,” he said.
“We must ask, ‘What do we do with our people? How do we raise and value them? How do we value them?’
“We have over 20 million out-of-school children. Google how many countries in the world have less than 20m. That doesn’t worry us? Are you thinking there will be no Boko Haram tomorrow?
“Those are the foundations of your Boko Haram tomorrow. That should be our concern. We should not say it is externally induced. Is poverty also externally induced? Poverty is the conscious, unconscious choice of our leaders. If we say no; it would be no. If we say yes; it would be yes,” Obasanjo explained.
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