Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Monday that Boko Haram insurgents have legitimate grievances.
Obasanjo who spoke during a global education conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, added that low level of education was a contributory factor.
He told IBTimes: “They (Boko Haram) have legitimate grievances.
“We don’t need anyone to tell us that that is a problem: a problem of disparity, a problem of marginalisation.
“The response of the government initially was definitely not enough. When Boko Haram started showing their fangs about four years ago, the reaction should have been firm and unmistakable.
Obasanjo also said that a carrot-and-stick approach was still needed to solve the insurgency, adding that the heat that the sect was facing from the military at the moment could force it to dialogue with the government.
He said: “If Boko Haram is ready to talk, we should talk. But they will need to be pounded a little bit by the military and then, they would be ready to talk.
“When we were dealing with the carrot aspect, the stick aspect should have been firm. I hope with that, we will now go the carrot; the carrot is those things rightly or wrongly perceived as injustice or grievances that can now be dealt with.
“But the false confidence of the militants to go into Chad, Niger and neighbouring countries has now led to a regional coalition of military and that has been reasonably effective; it has not completely solved the problem.”