President Goodluck Jonathan has dismissed poverty as responsible for the spate of terror attacks that has bedeviled some sections of the Northern part of the country.
Speaking in an interview on Arise Television on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week, Jonathan disagreed with the notion that terrorism is driven by poverty.
According to him, the surface-to-air missiles and other sophisticated deadly weapons used in the terror attacks in the country were not weapons poor people have the capacity to acquire.
To further buttress his position, the president cited the instance of the first Nigerian involved in an attempted suicide on an American jetliner in 2010, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, whom the president said came from one of the richest families in the north.
He also cited the case of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC, which were masterminded by Osama bin Laden who also came from a very wealthy family.
He admitted that members of terrorist cells could take advantage of poverty to attract recruits, but insisted that poverty was not the root cause of terrorism in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
“Petty crimes can be blamed on poverty, but definitely not terrorism. I do not agree with anyone who says that is the cause of terrorism,” he said.
The president also said incidents such as armed robberies, kidnappings and other forms of petty crimes were familiar types of crimes known to Nigerians in the past, adding that it was Nigeria’s lack of experience in dealing with terrorism that had robbed it of developing a security architecture to combat terrorism.
“However, we have been forced to develop our security architecture to deal with the menace we find in our midst today and are doing everything to stem the spread and capacity of terrorists to target innocent Nigerians.
“In this drive, we are getting some assistance from the US, France and other countries,” Jonathan said.
Just like he committed himself to a statement that has remained a talking point ever since he said the Islamist sect Boko Haram had infiltrated his government, Jonathan accused some unnamed wealthy people of being behind the current attacks in some parts of the north.
However, he assured Nigerians that his government was building the capacity of the armed forces through the gathering of intelligence to stabilise the country because military confrontation would not stop the attacks and called for the support of the rest of the world, adding; “A terror attack anywhere in the world is an attack on all of us.”