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Nigerian Senator Says Poverty the Cause of Boko Haram Insurgency

  • James Butty

A villager speaks standing next to the governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima (C), during Shettima's visit to Benisheik, on September 19, 2013, after a violent attack by Boko Haram Islamists kills at least 87 people.

A villager speaks standing next to the governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima (C), during Shettima's visit to Benisheik, on September 19, 2013, after a violent attack by Boko Haram Islamists kills at least 87 people.

A Nigerian senator says Sunday’s killing of 40 students in Yobe State heightens the need for the federal government of Nigeria to make available more resources to boost security in the region.

Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan from Yobe State says the government must also provide the necessary financial resources to fight poverty, particularly in Yobe and Borno States, two regions that have seen a series of brutal attacks by suspected Boko Haram militants in recent months.

Lawan says he believes poverty is the source of the insurgency in the region. He President Goodluck Jonathan should be more concerned because the Yobe school killings took place despite the existence of a federal government-imposed state of emergency in the region.

“I should be more disturbed because that is my state, and I believe the federal government, and the president in particular should be worried as the leader of the country. I think that despite the existence of a state of emergency, declared by the federal government and approved by the national assembly in May the situation appears to escalating. And I believe that this is supposed to be a cause for worry and concern for everybody, particularly the president and federal government of Nigeria,” he said.

Army spokesman Captain Eli Lazarus told VOA News that gunmen stormed the Yobe State College of Agriculture in Yobe State early Sunday firing on students as they slept.

At least 18 students were being treated for injuries at a hospital in the state capital of Damaturu.

Senator Lawan says the savage nature of the attack makes it more important for the federal government of Nigeria to devote more resources to fighting the insurgency.

“This is an insurgency that doesn’t know any limit or bounds. But I think while we are fighting insurgency in that part of the country, I believe that Yobe and Borno particularly need to have more resources from the federal government to also fight poverty. If we are targeting insurgency, we must also be battling the source of the insurgency, and it has been established by people across this country and even people from beyond that poverty is in the mix of this crisis. And there I believe that the federal needs to come up with a special financial package for Yobe State and Borno State too, he said.

Some have criticized the Nigerian security as ineffective in its efforts to root out Boko Haram insurgents. But Senator Lawan says the security must be provided with the necessary resources to fight the insurgents.

“A country is as good as the country is. The security of Nigeria cannot be better than what Nigeria is today. So I believe that the level of committed by the security needs to be supported and improved, and that is supposed to be through the effort of the federal government of Nigeria by giving more and appropriate resources for this cause,” Lawan said.

Lawan dismissed any suggestion that the Boko Haram insurgency may be driven by religious and political intentions, especially since the election of President Goodluck Jonathan.
“There was Boko Haram even during [the administration of President Umaru] Yar’Adua because the leader of Boko Haram was killed in 2009, and that was when Yar’Adua was still the president of the Republic of Nigeria. How is it against Jonathan if they are killing people from Yobe and Borno? Those students that were killed, 40 of them, they were not from part of Nigeria but from Yobe. So it is not political. There should be no diversionary explanation of the cause of this crisis,” Lawan said.

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