An adviser to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has denied reports that the country’s security challenges are driving away investors.
Doyin Okupe, senior special adviser for public affairs, says the administration is working with prominent elders in the north to find solutions to the violence often perpetrated by an Islamist militant group, Boko Haram.
“Now, very important personalities in the country, especially in the north, have constituted themselves into a very strong body and they are determined to put an end to this,” Okupe said. “And in our country, this is very cherry news, because these are very respected people whose voices can hardly be ignored.
“It is obvious to all and sundry, and those who are willing to be objective, to know that the issue of the insurgency in Nigeria is on its way out," he added.
Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in Nigeria, including church bombings and the bombing of a United Nations building. The group has threatened international media organizations, including VOA’s Hausa service.
The militant group has said it is fighting to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria and says it does not recognize the Nigerian government or the constitution.
Okupe said the government is taking measures to curb the growing threat posed by the violent militant group.
He said Boko Haram is active in seven Nigerian states. “The remaining 29 states are totally insurgency free, violent free,” Okupe said. “So, in terms of investment [the effect] is extremely minimal.
“Right now the incidences of insurgency are on a massive decline,” he said. “The government is in control the security apparatus and architecture have been reformed and overhauled. It’s a war that the government is winning.”
Okupe also held open the possibility of talks between the government and Boko Haram.
“Information that we have is that… Boko Haram on its own is interested in negotiating with government,” Okupe said, adding that “the government is not averse to negotiating with Boko Haram. The government will explore and exploit every possibility to end this crisis in the interest of peace and stability to help the economy of Nigeria.”
Okupe also dismissed concerns that some states might be quietly contemplating the idea of breaking away from Nigeria.
“This is plain mischief and this can only come from mischief-makers …,” he said. “People are more interested in self-determination, which is all part and parcel of what a truly federal system is all about.… The issue of secession or anything of that nature is totally unfounded, it is not true and it has no basis.”