The federal government has described former President Olusegun

Obasanjo’s comments imputing ethno-religious motive to Boko Haram and

ISWAP as deeply offensive and patently divisive, saying such

indiscreet comments are far below the status of an elder statesman.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday, the Minister of Information

and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said it was particularly tragic that

a man who fought to keep Nigeria one is the same one seeking to

exploit the country’s fault lines to divide it in the twilight of his

life.

He said Boko Haram and ISWAP are terrorist organizations pure and

simple, adding that they care little about ethnicity or religion when

perpetrating their senseless killings and destruction.

”Since the Boko Haram crisis, which has been simmering under the

watch of Obasanjo, boiled over in 2009, the terrorist organization has

killed more Muslims than adherents of any other religion, blown up

more mosques than any other houses of worship and is not known to have

spared any victim on the basis of their ethnicity. It is therefore

absurd to say that Boko Haram and its ISWAP variant have as their goal

the ‘Fulanisation and Islamisation’ of Nigeria, West Africa or

Africa,” Alhaji Mohammed said.

He said President Buhari put to rest the mis-characterization of Boko

Haram as an Islamic organization when he said, in his inaugural speech

in 2015, that ”Boko Haram is a mindless, godless group who are as far

away from Islam as one can think of”.

The Minister said Obasanjo’s comments are therefore as insensitive and

mischievous as they are as offensive and divisive in a multi-ethnic

and multi-religious country like Nigeria, wondering whether there is

no limit to how far the former President will go in throwing poisonous

darts at his perceived political enemies.

He said Obasanjo’s prescriptions for ending the Boko Haram/ISWAP

crisis, which include seeking assistance outside the shores of

Nigeria, are coming several years late, as President Buhari has done

that and more since assuming office, hence the phenomenal success he

has recorded in tackling the terrorists.

”Shortly after assuming office in 2015, President Buhari’s first

trips outside the country were to rally the support of Nigeria’s

neighbours – Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger – for the efforts to

battle the terrorists. The President also rallied the support of the

international community, starting with the G7, and then the US, France

and the UN.

”That explains the massive degrading of Boko Haram, which has since

lost its capacity to carry out the kind of spectacular attacks for

which it became infamous, and the recovery of every inch of captured

Nigerian territory from the terrorists,” Alhaji Mohammed said.

He said Obasanjo’s call for wide consultations with various groups as

part of the efforts to tackle the Boko Haram crisis has been

neutralized by his ill-advised comments which have served more to

alienate a large number of Nigerians, who are offended by his tactless

and distasteful postulation.

The Minister called on the former President, whom he said took bullets

for Nigeria’s unity, not to allow personal animosity to override his

love for a united Nigeria, saying it will not be out of place if he

withdraws his unfortunate statement and apologizes to Nigerians.