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Obama Urges Africa To Unite Against Terrorism, Sectarian Violence
The Guardian Nigeria
Sunday, June 30, 2013

UNITED States’ President, Barrack Obama, on Saturday, linked growing terrorism in Africa to bad governance but insisted that, “in the case of the Boko Haram sect, there is (also) the religious rationale for what they are doing.”

Obama, who spoke at the African young Leaders’ Town Hall meeting in Soweto, South Africa, as part of his official tour of Africa, said the war on terror is not the exclusive preserve of the United States but a global issue.


The Guardian monitored the session, which was aired by the Cable News Network (CNN).

“It is not just the problem of the United States; it is a problem for everybody. When the US Embassy was bombed in Kenya, more Kenyans were killed than foreigners,” the US President, who clearly avoided Nigeria in his schedule — and in all his official speeches — said during the question-and-answer session yesterday.

According to Obama, regional terror gangs like the Boko Haram in Nigeria, may not have grown transnational in capacity like others but they are doing a great harm in Africa.

He explained that the US does not necessarily wish to get involved in war militarily, even as he stressed that his country will not likely intervene in specific matters but expects that the whole of African countries will “collaborate with us to fight” terrorism.

Obama called on African leaders to build capacity to tackle terrorism, stating that his government will provide training and advice.

The US’ President also hinted that the US is already partnering with Nigeria on education to develop human capital.

According to him, the most important investment a nation can make is to develop its youths and encourage technological development, adding “these days, businesses can go anywhere to get quality manpower.”

Stating that it is the failings of governments that give rise to terrorism, he opined that responsive and democratic institutions are the best defence against terrorism.

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He said: “It is my strong belief that terrorism is more likely to emerge and take root where countries are not delivering for their people and where there are sources of conflict and unaligned frustrations that have not been adequately dealt with.

“The danger we have right now, for example, in a place like Somalia, is that it’s been two generations, maybe three, since there was a functioning government inside of Somalia. We start to see some progress in part because of intervention by African nations in Somalia to clear the space and create the space for governance. But you look at what is happening in Mali, for example, right now, part of the problem is that they have a weak central government and democratic institutions that weren’t reaching out as far into the country as necessary.

“We have to build such institutions of responsiveness, governance and democracy. Those things become defence mechanism against terrorism. They are the most important defence against terrorism. I don’t start with attitude of a military solution to these problems. I think the more we are giving the people more opportunity, the more we are giving the people more education, the more we are helping to resolve conflicts through democratic practices, the less likely they are to take roots.

“Having said that, there are some extremist groups that won’t compromise or work through a democratic process and we have to also be realistic about that and what we want to do is to partner with African countries to figure out how we can help.

“We want to build an African capacity. We want the African union and every other organisation to build up their capacity. If they do this, they will be to be able to nip terrorist cells that may be forming before they even start and gain strength. We can provide advice and training and, in some cases, equipment. But we would want nothing more than for Africa collectively to say no to extremism, no sectarianism, which Boko Haram is an example of, essentially a religious rationale for this kind of violence.”


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