Nigeria′s President Goodluck Jonathan says Boko Haram security threat is ′exaggerated′ | Africa | DW | 20.04.2012
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Africa

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan says Boko Haram security threat is 'exaggerated'

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been in Berlin for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck. The meetings focused on trade and infrastructure issues, but also Boko Haram.

Goodluck Jonathan has been President of Nigeria since February 2010. He is the 14th head of state of the West African nation and is a member of the ruling People's Democratic Party. Following his talks with Chancellor Merkel and President Gauck, he spoke to Usman Shehu Usman of DW's Hausa Service.

Deutsche Welle: President Jonathan, we know that the relationship between Germany and Nigeria has a lot to do with energy and infrastructure issues. Perhaps you could tell us a little bit more about that?

President Goodluck Jonathan: Nigeria and Germany have a very warm and cordial relationship. Germany is the biggest economy in Europe, we are the largest market in Africa. For that reason, we believe cooperation between Germany and Nigeria will create a big platform for our young businessmen and women to really blossom in the future.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in Berlin

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan wants to develop stronger trade ties with Berlin

The emphasis of the meetings was on the energy sector. We are not generating enough power to support small and medium business. By the grace of God, we have large amounts of natural resources. The big companies are okay. Because they have gas, they just build the turbines they need. But medium and small businesses need help and that is what will create jobs and reduce poverty in the country.

There are two main areas where Nigeria needs to improve: we need to mechanise farming, especially in the north. And we need to have power to process foods. We can't just export unprocessed foods like before.

There are also security concerns from investors in Nigeria though, aren't there?

Not just investors are concerned about security, we are all concerned. None of us want to be attacked in our homes, or at the market or in hotels. We have security challenges now, especially with Boko Haram.

There are security issues across the country but Boko Haram have links with terrorist groups like al Qaeda and other groups in the north of Africa. They trained outside Nigeria. Their type of confrontation is a matter of concern.

In terms of safety, Nigerians are safer than most. The security situation in Nigeria is being blown out of proportion. It is exaggerated. I can assure all people that we are approaching the security challenges from all angles. Some I can't mention, because they are sensitive. I believe we will reduce the security problems within this year.

Did the German government say they will offer assistance in dealing with Boko Haram?

Not specifically, in the sense that they want to offer assistance to attack Boko Haram. We don't have a civil war with Boko Haram. But Germany and Nigeria have a relationship of mutual assistance. Germany is a hightech country. They have agreed to assist in some areas, not necessarily fighting Boko Haram. I don't need to ask them to come and fight Boko Haram.

Let's talk about Africa's other security issues. Mali and Guinea Bissau are big problems. Nigeria is the strongest country in the region – what efforts are you making to alleviate these crises?

We are working very hard, both in Mali and Guinea Bissau. Most importantly, in West Africa, and indeed the rest of Africa, at both ECOWAS and at AU level, the heads of state have said they won't put up with any military dictatorships.

The issue of military governments is not negotiable. We have no time for that. We cannot continue to run Africa as a primitive continent. Africa has come of age.

Interview: Usman Shehu Usman
Editor: Susan Houlton

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