Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, blamed the incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan for allowing the Islamic sect, Boko Haram, to grow into a monster that is now uncontrollable by his failure to act on a report submitted to the government.
The former president who spoke at a lecture delivered by Professor Bolaji Akinyemi to mark the 40th anniversary of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor’s call to ministry at the Word of Life Bible Church, Warri in Delta State, also tasked Nigerians to choose between a strong leader who might adopt unusual approach to tackle a problem or a weak leader who will leave the problem to fester.
Answering a question from a pastor from Borno State on how he could forge any form of unity with those who are perpetuating violence in the northern part of the country, Obasanjo went emotional, saying: “Boko Haram is an ill wind that blows nobody no good.”
He proceeded to narrate his experience when he went on a fact-finding mission to Borno State which was regarded as the base of Boko Haram.
He said: “They (Boko Haram) stated their grievances and I promised to relay them to the authorities in power, because that was the best I could do. I did report. But my fear at that time is still my fear till today. When you have a sore and fail to attend to it quickly, it festers and grows to become something else.
“Whichever way, you just have to attend to it. Don’t leave it unattended to. On two occasions I had to attend to the problem I faced at that time. I sent soldiers to a place and 19 of them were killed. If I had been allowed that to continue, I will not have authority to send security whether police, soldier and any force any where again. So, I had to nip it in the bud and that was the end of that particular problem,” he said.
He was, however, careful to admit that all problems might not require that kind of treatment. According to him, “if you say you don’t want a strong leader who can have all characteristics of leaders including God fearing, then have a weak leader and the rest of the problem is yours.”
He argued that “the beauty of democracy is that power rests in the people, and every elected person would seek your votes to come back; if you don’t want him, he won’t come back. He noted that people had been saying that he brought President Goodluck Jonathan but what they have failed to admit is that he didn’t give all the votes that brought the man to power.
The erstwhile president therefore charged Nigerians to stand up and take their destinies in their own hands, reminding them of a Yoruba adage, “if you say it the way it is, you will die; if you don’t say anything at all, you will die, why don’t you say it and die?”