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Obasanjo Opens Up on Meeting with Boko Haram Founders

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has made some revelations about the early days of the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria’s north-east region.

According to the elder statesman, the founders of the terrorist group said poverty and unemployment drove them into kicking off the insurgency.

Obasanjo stated this at the launch of a book titled, ‘Pillars of Statecraft: Nation-building in a changing world’ authored by his daughter, Dr Kofo Obasanjo-Blackshire, in Lagos.

“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,” Obasanjo said.

“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?

“They said they believed in Sharia Law. I told them that Sharia was not a problem in Nigeria. It is part of our constitution,” he added.

Obasanjo, however, warned that the country’s over 20 million out-of-school children were “a breeding ground” for more Boko Haram members of the future if not urgently attended to.

Obasanjo further stated that some Boko Haram members informed him that they went to school but they had no jobs.

The former president argued that they shouldn’t be blamed for not getting a job after four years and they are entitled to livelihood.

Reacting to a question by a member of the audience on why government policies had become more political than people-centred in recent times, Obasanjo said part of the country’s major problems was looking for scapegoats for its problems.

He stated the role of governance and leadership and also maintained that the country must learn to face its problems rather than blame-shifting.

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