by Stanley Azuakola
On the issue of Boko Haram, President Goodluck Jonathan’s official position at the United Nations General Assembly is that Nigeria’s three-prong strategy of a “robust” approach to neutralizing Boko Haram, holding indirect talks with the group and improving education in the North is working, and Nigeria is winning the war.
When one considers the recent killing of Boko Haram spokesman Abu Qaqa by the military and the recent arrest of militants in a bomb factory in Adamawa, it truly appears like the strategy is working. However, in an interview the president had with Reuters on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, he downplayed the impact of the September 16 death of Abu Qaqa during a gun battle with soldiers in Kano.
“If I look at it, the trend is coming down. It is not because Abu Qaqa is dead. Abu Qaqa is just one person. If one Abu Qaqa dies, it can generate 10 Abu Qaqas,” said the president.
“The issue is not the death of one person. The issue is that the robust approach that government is taking, exploiting all possible means… is paying off, and we believe it will continue to pay off.”
Responding to the reported heavy handed tactics of the military, Jonathan made it clear that the military approach could only be one part of the solution. He said there were much more important approaches, like the push to improve agriculture, job prospects and access to Western-style education in the predominantly Muslim north.
“The whole approach, both the security aspects, the indirect talks, and the job opportunities that we are creating, we are giving hope to the people. The education institutions we are establishing are giving hope to the people.
“One links up with the other to get to the respite we are seeing now. I cannot credit it to only one approach”, he said.