Former President Obasanjo has said the Libyan revolution that ousted long-time leader Mu’ammar Ghaddafi let loose trained militants and weapons that found their ways into Nigeria, fuelling the Boko Haram insurgency.
In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation radio and television aired yesterday, Obasanjo said also that the rise of the insurgency could be linked to bad leadership.
“There is an element of that,” he said when asked if bad leadership contributed in propping up the sect.
“There is an internal element, which you have mentioned—inadequate education in the North, or in fact inadequate education generally in the country, inadequate employment opportunities in the country, all that are part of what, if you like, is remote cause of Boko Haram as far as I am concerned.
“But then there are also external elements. Now, the fallout from Libya, which of course as a result what happened in Libya, those that have been trained in Libya in the time of Gaddafi from other countries who are neighbors of Libya, when Gaddafi fell they moved out. They moved out with their training, their weapons and they started to wreak havoc on the communities in which they have moved out to. And that is the situation in northern Mali,” he added.
When asked if he meant there was a connection between the overthrow of Ghaddafi and the Boko Haram insurgency, the killing of the US ambassador in Libya on Tuesday and the instability in northern Mali, Obasanjo replied: “There is connection.”
He said those who masterminded the fall of Ghaddafi, as well as the whole of Africa, have already started paying a price for that.
“And we know that there will be a price to pay in the way that it all went in Libya. At the end of the day all of us in Africa, and all those who masterminded the way it happened will have to pay a price, and we are now paying the price,” Obasanjo said.
He said the Arab Spring was celebrated too early, as there are always consequences of violent overthrow of leaders.
“Now it was too early to shout ‘uhuru’ with the Arab Spring, and some of us said that. That look, what will be the final outcome of this? Let us wait and see. When you have violence and violent overthrow of regimes you do not know exactly what the final outcome will be.”
‘Boko Haram can’t win this war’
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo said Boko Haram’s stated objective of imposing Sharia law on Nigeria will never work because of the religious diversity of the population.
“Now, talking to people who know the history of Nigeria, you will know that you cannot impose any particular religion on Nigeria as a whole. These people cannot impose Shari’a in the North where most of our people are Muslims let alone in Nigeria,” he said.
“Now, they should know that, and someone should make them know that. So I see a bit of naivety in that objective that they have given to themselves and it is an unattainable objective.”
Obasanjo added: “If you are prepared to kill more people, if like somebody says “we will fight to the last drop of our blood”, now, one does not know whose blood would be the last to drop. How many would they kill, how many of them will survive at the end of the day?
“I believe you should go with…you should carry carrot and stick, at the end of the day there would be area where carrot would work and there would be area where stick would work. And I believed the authorities are now adopting that.
“Those who are on the other side, Boko Haram, and those who believe in their cause or waiting for their cause, know that it is not the war that they can win.”