Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso said the country was unprepared for the level of violence from Boko Haram Islamists.
Kwankwaso, who spoke to AFP in an interview, yesterday stated that “everyone is tired of our situation now because nobody is safe in this country.”
According to him, insurgency in the country’s north is fuelled by social and economic inequalities in the region compared to the richer, oil-producing south.
He said President Goodluck Jonathan had failed to heed advice and address the problems.
“There is a very strong correlation between poverty, unemployment and illiteracy on the one hand and of course the issue of insurgency or insecurity on the other,” Kwankwaso said.
“A very poor man who is looking for something to eat can easily be persuaded by the insurgents to be recruited. So, also, the unemployed and the illiterate. And that is exactly what is happening.
“The president has been warned by many people in and outside the country, including (former US) secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
“I’m sure there are many people that told him that long before now but he didn’t take the advice and now we are reaping the consequences.”
Kwankwaso said he welcomed the help of “friendly countries” in the search for more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram fighters last month.
But he questioned why Nigeria was no longer able to tackle the situation on its own, given the military’s history of involvement in peacekeeping operations overseas.
“Under normal circumstances, Nigeria should be strong enough to defend itself. We don’t have to ask our friends — the US, UK and so on — to come and help us.
“I have to say that it is very disappointing today that we have to ask some countries to come and help us because as at the time I left office as the minister of defence, we had the capacity to protect every square metre of this country.
“I don’t know what went wrong but this is where we have found ourselves. We have to look for support from elsewhere and that is what those in the saddle of leadership are looking for,” he said.
Kwankwaso said the five-year insurgency had left everyone a target, from ordinary civilians to the police, military, government officials and traditional rulers.
His own father narrowly escaped injury after gunmen attacked a mosque in his village in January, killing three worshippers.
The range of people attacked put paid to claims that politicians in the north were stoking the insurgency as a way of destabilising the government in Abuja, he added.
“Every class is a victim and we hope the government works as tirelessly as possible to end this state of insecurity we are now facing.”