Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan visiting relatives of victims of the St. Theresa Catholic Church that was bombed on December 25, 2011. Dozens were killed in a series of attacks blamed on Boko Haram., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Identify yourselves for dialogue, Jonathan tells Boko Haram
SAM OLUWALANA WITH AGENCY REPORTS 27/01/2012 01:31:00
Nigeria National Mirror
President Goodluck Jonathan President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday challenged the Boko Haram Islamic sect to identify themselves and state clearly their demands as a basis for talks, even as he acknowledged that military confrontation alone will not end their insurgency. Jonathan, in an interview with a foreign news agency at the Presidential Villa, Abuja said there was no doubt that Boko Haram had links with other jihadist groups outside Nigeria.
The sect killed more than 500 people last year and more than 250 in the first weeks of 2012 in gun and bomb attacks, according to Human Rights Watch. Coordinated attacks in Kano last Friday left 186 people dead in its most deadly strike to date, prompting the president to visit surviving victims.
If they clearly identify themselves now and say this is the reason why we are resisting, this is the reason why we are confronting government or this is the reason why we destroy some innocent people and their properties, then there will be a basis for dialogue. We will dialogue, let us know your problems and we will solve your problem but if they dont identify themselves, who will you dialogue with, said Jonathan.
The President pledged to bring development to the remote, semi-arid corners of the country where high youth unemployment has provided easy recruits for extremists.
Military confrontation alone will not eliminate terror attacks, an enabling environment for young people to find jobs is also needed .Our commitment is to make sure our irrigation programs are all revitalised so most of these young people are engaged in productive agriculture and will not be free for them to recruit as political thugs, he said.
As well as coming under fire for his handling of the crisis in the north, President Jonathan suffered a week of vitriolic anti-government protests this month when attempt was made to scrap fuel subsidies, part of efforts to cut the fiscal costs, but was forced to partly reinstate it.
This prompted the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to announce a raft of measures aimed at defusing public anger about the extent of corruption and mismanagement in the sector, including setting up a new committee to hurry along the stalled Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB.