Nigeria’s Finance minister, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said that the insurgency by the violent Islamic sect, BokoHaram, is being stoked by politicians, who “will use anything to win election.”
“We tend to notice when the electoral cycle comes in, all these things heat up. What we are going through now is democracy in raw form, because people are fighting for power and they will use anything to get there
… and to win the election,” the minister said in an interview reported by Reuters on Monday.
While assuring that “Nigeriaas a nation will overcome this,” Okonjo-Iweala said she hoped the politicians would heed President Goodluck Jonathan’s appeal at a meeting lastweek for all to be united to curb insurgency
Okonjo-Iweala said the Federal Government was capable of handling the Boko Haram insurgents though she admitted that the sect had shown that it had the capability to strike “further south.”
But she said Nigeria had halted insurgencies before, citing the government’s achievement in halting attacks against oil facilities by Niger Delta militants.
She added that Boko Haram had not pose the same threat as the Biafran War that split the country from 1967-1970.
The minister said Nigeria was not in a war situation. “There is no war; there is an insurgency. We are not in a Columbia situation,” she told Reuters in the interview said to have been conducted on Sunday in her car in Abuja as she headed to the airport to fly to New York.
Columbia is a Latin American energy producer, which has battled for decades with a major left-wing insurgency that often affected large swathes of its national territory.
The minister said the government was preparing a special development plan for the north-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe to counter the Boko Haram violence though she did not outline the details of the plan.
“We recognise that this is an inclusion problem … the fact that the human development indicators in that part of the country are among the lowest,” she said, adding that the government was working to obtain backing from donors for the programme.
Okonjo-Iweala said Boko Haram was receiving” cross-border” backing from supporters in neighbouring Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
“We need to look at the source of this financing,” she said, adding that Jonathan had been working to obtain regional cooperation to remove Boko Haram’s support from jihadi groups in the Sahel.
The minister denied that the insurgency in the country had been turning away investors.
She said that investors looking more closely at Nigeria since a GDP rebasing last month made it the continent’s largest economy, ahead of South Africa, did not appear to be turned off by the security challenges.
“Nobody who is making an investment has so far said they will not make one that we know of,” she said.