Nigeria’s government is seeking intelligence cooperation from neighboring countries and the international community to help defeat terrorist activities carried out by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram, following an upsurge in violence in parts of the country, according to Rueben Abati, an adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan.
“The President has made it clear that he looks forward to the collaboration with both Nigeria’s neighbors and the international community in general, in terms of the exchange of intelligence, in terms of partnership to address the challenge of terror. To the extent that terrorism is not a local problem it is a global problem, and it requires concerted action on the path of the international community to deal with it,” said Abati.
He says the administration is committed to holding negotiations with members of the militant group to end the violence as part of its mandate to protect lives and property.
“[President Jonathan] re-stated his administration’s commitment to continuing to ensuring peace and security in Nigeria and in the sub-region,” said Abati. “President Jonathan has made it clear that the door is still open for dialogue with Boko Haram elements to encourage them to embrace the path of dialogue and peace.”
But critics say Mr. Jonathan has failed to end the wave of violence carried out by Boko Haram, despite the deployment of the military to combat the violent group after he declared a state of emergency in parts of the country’s north. Abati disagreed.
He outlined some of the measures the administration has implemented to combat the violence.
“In terms of the military option and its commitment to ensuring the security of life and property, the government will continue to explore that option,” said Abati. “The administration will continue to work on other options such as promoting social inclusion education, empowerment, wealth creation, job creation to reduce the arming of young people who are available as foot soldiers for terrorism.”
He says the government has made strides to combat terrorism despite the recent uptick in violence.
“There is clear optimism that what is happening now will not last, because what has been done is to scale up activities on many fronts,” said Abati.
Some observers attributed the recent reorganization of senior officials in the security services to a change in the government’s strategy to combat terrorism, but Abati disagreed.
“That is not the case,” said Abati. “If you look at the list of persons who were retired, who were asked to step aside, the former service chiefs, at least two of them were due for retirement. So the president, on the basis of that, just decided to appoint new persons so it has nothing to do with their performance.”
Clottey interview with Rueben Abati, President Jonathan's adviser