Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has stated that the emergence of the Boko Haram insurgents resulted from the failings of past administrations.
He said that the previous administrations failed to implement programmes and policies that had direct impact on poor Nigerians, and that endemic corruption, led to a degeneration of the situation in the North-East.
Osinbajo stated this while delivering a public lecture titled ‘The Unraveling of Boko Haram and the Rebuilding of the North-East of Nigeria’ at the Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.
According to him, “governance failure in the past culminated in the myriad of problems that manifested in the form of terrorism, kidnapping, general insecurity and many others that predated the Buhari government”.
A statement by Laolu Akande, his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity quoted the vice president as expressing optimism that the Buhari government’s posture and actions had changed the narrative for the better.
The vice president lamented that “former president Goodluck Jonathan’s government … neither seemed determined nor focused on routing Boko Haram. Several factors may explain the government’s attitude.
“First, a politically convenient narrative of the ruling party was that Boko Haram was actually sponsored by a Northern-Muslim political elite determined to discredit the government led by a Christian and which had its main support base in the predominantly Christian South South and South East. When the opposition parties finally came together to form the current ruling party the APC, the then ruling party’s publicity organ were quick to describe the party as the “janjaweed” party, and worked hard to paint it as the political wing of the Boko Haram”.
“Secondly, the ruling party also somewhat cynically seemed to have considered that since BH attacks were actually in the heartland of the opposition it was not necessarily an unwelcome development as it could only weaken the opposition.
“Third, extensive corruption in arms procurement estimated at about USD15 billion, ensured that the military remained poorly equipped and demoralized. A number of well publicised mutinies occurred and troops involved were taken through widely unpopular court-martials.
“As the government dithered and equivocated BH proceeded to realize the objective of occupying territory and establishing Islamist States in Nigeria and in the Lake Chad basin. In Borno State alone it occupied and hoisted its flag in 20 of the 27 local governments that constituted the State. In Adamawa Stare BH took Mubi and some villages in Yobe State”.
He however noted that: “Clearly one of the strongest reasons for President Buhari’s victory in the March 2015 Presidential election was the expectation that going by his reputation as a no-nonsense soldier he would defeat Boko Haram and restore peace to the North East.
“He moved quickly to realise this objective, announcing a relocation of the Command and Control Headquarters to Maiduguri right at the heart of the insurgency.
“ With more effective leadership, command and control, improved logistics and intelligence, better equipment and motivation of the troops, the tide soon turned”.
The Vice President told his audience that the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari remained committed to rebuilding the devastated North-eastern region through a comprehensive plan that is also transparent.
He said, “the commitment that the Federal government has made is to be consistent and there is no distrust for the political leadership in Nigeria today, and for good reason, this has promoted the easy embrace of dissenters of all shades by the people.
“Nigeria has a great opportunity to change the perception of leadership as being corrupt and unreliable, with President Buhari who is widely acknowledged as being forthright and honest, Mai gaskiya (the truthful one, as he is known in the North).’’
“Transparency in government, social investments, provision of education and healthcare could improve the government’s image as being responsive.”