Former President of Benin Republic, Nicéphore Dieudonné Soglo, has pointedly identified Saudi and Qatari governments as the sponsors of Boko Haram – the Islamic terror group in north east Nigeria.
Mr. Soglo, who ruled Benin from 1992-1996 before strongman Mathieu Kérékou defeated him, was speaking in an International Conference on Constitutionalism and Democracy in Africa, in Niamey, Niger Republic, organized by the National Democratic Institute for Africa.
He said Africans and West Africa particularly needs to identify her genuine friends and work together to defeat the existential threat posed by terrorism and extremism in the sub-continent.
Boko Haram, he said, “is funded by our friends from Saudi Arabia and our friends from Qatar. Are we friends or not? Let’s tell ourselves the truth. We have to stand together.”
In the hall was Nigerian ex-president Goodluck Jonathan, who battled Boko Haram for much of his 5 years in power, and was defeated in 2015 largely on account of the perception that he failed to rein in the “rag tag” terrorists. Current government of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari has hardly defeated the group either since 2015.
“I’m optimistic we are going to win if we stand together,” Soglo told the gathering, in his brief remark.
Boko Haram which mean western education is a sin, has since affiliated with ISIS to form Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP), both fighting to carve out an Islamic state of the northeastern Nigeria, which historically was of the Kanem Borno empire dominated by the Kanuri tribe.
Only on Monday 30 September, Nigeria’s Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai, complained that the military may not be able to defeat Boko Haram if religious bodies and organisations in the country did not come to the “forefront of the spiritual battle.”
In the past, the government of Buhari claimed it had “technically defeated” Boko Haram even as their are media reports suggesting the army may be loosing even more grounds to the terror group previously held by the former regime.