News / Africa

    Nigeria Leader Urges International Cooperation to Defeat Terrorism

    President Barack Obama meets with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in New York, Sept. 23, 2013.
    President Barack Obama meets with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in New York, Sept. 23, 2013.
    Peter Clottey
    Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has called for international cooperation in combatting and defeating terrorism.  He made his appeal following a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.

    His comments also follow the attack in Nairobi, Kenya, on the Westgate shopping mall by members of the Somali-based terror group, al-Shabab.

                       Terrorism

    Nigeria is also facing security challenges due to the violence carried out by Islamic sect, Boko Haram. Based in Nigeria’s north, the group uses violence in an attempt to force the country to adopt strict Islamic law.

    Human Rights Watch says Boko Haram has killed an estimated 3,000 people since 2009.

    In an exclusive interview with VOA, Mr. Jonathan says there is no justification for armed groups who use violence to terrorize unarmed civilians.

    “Now, we are confronted with people who can just kill people without provocation. You ask what is the reason, is it religious? If it is religious that means there is a wrong teaching because there is no major religion in the world that I know that asks you to kill somebody you don’t even know,” said Jonathan. “I believe that a terror attack anywhere on the surface of the earth is a terror attack on all of us, and the world must come together to fight terror.  Nobody should use any excuse.”


    “We will fight terror,” said Jonathan. “They [Washington] have been helping, other countries have been helping us, but we need more robust assistance because if we allow it, and we don’t apply the force we need to apply now and we just treat it with kid gloves then it will continue to escalate. The best thing is like a surgical operation:  do it clinically, and make sure that we stop the spread.”

                       Power Generation

    Over the years, Nigeria has faced electricity or power shortages, which affect manufacturing industries. President Jonathan promised to address the problem. He refused to criticize previous administrations for their inability to solve the problem.

    “We are addressing it in different [ways]. First and foremost, we are increasing our generation, we are increasing the distribution facilities,” said Jonathan.

    He says his administration has sought partners outside the government as a way of ensuring progress.

    “Without private sector involvement, you can never take Nigeria to where we would want to [go] in terms of the power situation,” said Jonathan. “We have now privatized generation where we have problems, and we have privatized distribution. By the time we finish with this privatization, you will see that the power sector will take a life of its own.”

    He says the government is also working with a consultancy firm to strengthen the public-private partnership involved in improving power generation. 

    “You can’t have the private sector in one extreme, and a weak link [in terms of the] public sector.  The public sector must be strengthened, and that is why we brought in the Manitoba [consultancy firm] to manage.  Though it is still owned by the government, it is being managed like a private sector enterprise.”

                       Economic conditions

    Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, and the petroleum industry is the main generator of the country’s GDP. But, critics say successive Nigerian governments have failed to improve living standards in spite of the country’s enormous natural resources. But, President Jonathan says his government is determined to diversify the economy to improve living standards.

    “That has been our commitment, and if you follow our programs you will see that a number of things have been done,” said Jonathan. “I will go to the area of food because that is key.  [It’s] one area that can also generate jobs and improve the overall economy.”

    Jonathan says his administration has implemented new policies to improve food production.

    “Our approach to agriculture is different. This is the first time we have been doing dry season farming, and we’ve produced almost one million tons of rice,” said Jonathan.

    “I resisted advice to allow the importation of rice following the 2012 floods that undermined the country’s agricultural production,” says Jonathan.    

    “We have made people invest in rice production, and we did not give any waiver for one grain of rice to be imported into the country,” said Jonathan. “After the flood, though devastating, there was no shortage of grains. We are intervening in cocoa, sorghum, palm seeds and other areas.”

    Jonathan says the government has been encouraging youth to go into agricultural production, which he says is seeing a significant improvement.

    “We believe that to create jobs, we must make Nigerians employ other Nigerians. So those who have creative ideas and write proposals accepted by professionals, we give them grants varying from one million dollars to $20 million, and there [are] a lot of success stories. Definitely, we have not reached where we want to go, but we have started well, we are progressing well,” said Jonathan.

                       Corruption

    In its 2012 ranking released by Transparency International on global corruption, Nigeria placed 139th position out of the 176 countries surveyed.

    But, President Jonathan says his administration has implemented aggressive measures to address the problem in Africa’s most populous nation.                                                       

    He acknowledged that there is a perception among Nigerians that public officials are often involved in corrupt activities, but he quickly added that his government seeks to end the menace by ensuring transparency in all levels within the administration. 

    “I can tell you that as a government we are addressing it aggressively,” said Jonathan. “If you look at the major privatization sector [which] is about three billion dollars worth of investment, companies that have participated are from all over the world, and nobody is raising the issue of any corrupt practices. People never believed we could do it, but we have done it transparently and is accepted by all the companies involved that this is the best.”

                       West Africa politics

    Some analysts complain that the governments of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are not proactive in resolving political instability in the region often brought about by military coups. But, President Jonathan rejected the criticism.

    “That is an area in [which you] should commend the heads of state and government of West Africa.  Because of the ECOWAS position [on] unconstitutional governance, [military rulers] didn’t stay long, and we conducted elections very quickly, unlike before,” said Jonathan.

    “ECOWAS and the OAU [which is now the African Union] stated don’t go into the internal affairs of other states. That means that they still can have a dictator and we said no. You cannot talk about the economy without political stability,” said Jonathan. Nobody would come and invest in a region where every day there is a military change of government. Before we talk about the economy, we first and foremost must stabilize the politics.”

    He cited instances where heads of state intervened in countries including Niger and recently Mali to hasten the return to constitutional rule.

    “In the case of the Niger republic, immediately after the coup came up we said ‘you [military] cannot stay long.’  We put pressure on them, and they did not stay long. Then we had the case of Cote d’Ivoire where the election was stalemated, where somebody wanted to stay long. We said ‘no, you must obey your laws, so you must go.’  You don’t lead the country into crisis, and of course because of the strong position of ECOWAS, we have been able to stabilize the country,” said Jonathan.

    He says regional leaders proactively prevented an attempt to destabilize Liberia.

    “I went there, and I sent for some people to Abuja and told them we can’t allow it. We almost had a crisis in Benin, and I had to go and I said ‘no, we can’t accept it,’” said Jonathan. “Myself and [Ivory Coast’s Alassane] Ouattara recently came back from Togo. We had to go and address them from the way the opposition was acting and told them ‘no, don’t ever think about anything that could bring democracy into any question. We won’t accept it.’”

                       Legacy

    President Jonathan discussed his legacy ahead of the 2015 general election where some analysts say he faces a lot of opposition.

    “I want people to know first and foremost that within the period that I have served this country that I meant well for Nigerians. I did not serve because of my own personal interest, [and] that I have interest for this country at heart,” said Jonathan. “We have shifted Nigeria out of this mono-economy, where everything begins and ends with petrol.  [Now], agriculture, mines and solid minerals and even manufacturing are playing a key role in our economy.”

    He expressed hope that the security challenge from recent violence perpetrated by the Boko Haram could be decisively dealt with.

    “One thing that I want to leave behind is that elections in Nigeria are credible.  Nigerians should be able to vote [for] who they want not somebody hiring boys and weapons and shooting themselves into office or buy themselves into office, and that the votes of Nigerians matter.  The world should know that our method of electing those who govern us either at the executive level, governors, chairmen of local governments or presidents or at the parliamentary level are duly elected by their people,” he concluded.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: fegor ogene from: warri
    October 04, 2013 12:42 AM
    Welldone Gej for good effort to restore the economy back to this state! May your rain be fruitful to all those cocern.

    by: D A from: Nigeria
    September 25, 2013 5:20 PM
    Mr. Jonathan, terrorism is the least to worry about in Nigeria. We are in great economic hardship now, statistically the worst since the return of democracy in Nigeria. Your cabinet could not even release 2013 budget, salaries are coming late, what do you expect us to do? 2013 has already been wasted. If you guys spread the wealth we will be in a sound State and the poverty driven terrorism will perish. I don't see any cause to ask for assistance from Washington.

    by: walla richard from: Douala cameroon
    September 25, 2013 1:01 PM
    More grise to your elbow President Jonathan Goodluck for the wonderful initiative you are taking to build up the economy of your nation. we need serious leaders as you are in order to restructure the country both politically socially and economically.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora