President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger: on why Boko Haram will be beaten

The TRUE Africa 100 is our list of innovators, opinion-formers, game-changers, pioneers, dreamers and mavericks who we feel are shaping the Africa of today and tomorrow. We’re featuring them over 100 days and we’ve asked each of them three questions.

Mahamadou Issoufou has been President of Niger since 7 April 2011. He tells us how he thinks Boko Haram will be beaten and why education is so important to him.

How do you think Boko Haram will be defeated?

Boko Haram, which is currently active in the Lake Chad basin region will be beaten. They will be beaten because the region’s population rejects the group’s vision of Islam. Boko Haram will be beaten because the States in the region have decided to pool their operational and intelligence capabilities through the establishment of a multinational joint force. They will be beaten because the people in the basin countries are standing by their governments and their armies.

The armed group has already suffered severe blows. The ongoing operationalisation of the Joint Multinational Force (MNF) will accelerate their total destruction.

The immediate solution to the Boko Haram problem is military. But in the long-term, the economic and social development of the basin region will be the only way to end terrorism and extremism.

Which initiatives for the youth are you most excited about in Niger and why?

For the past four years, we have been implementing a program called the Renaissance Programme. Young people (of 25 and under) represent 75 per cent of the country’s population. This group is therefore one of the programme’s main priorities. The Renaissance Programme focuses on free and compulsory education, especially for girls up to the age of 16.

Education is one of my top priorities, because I myself am a pure product of the educational system.

It seeks to promote vocational and technical training of young people in order to improve their chances of finding employment.

Our ambition in this area is to increase to 60 per cent the proportion of young Nigeriens who benefit from vocational and technical training. This is a key measure.

The Renaissance program aims to create tens of thousands of jobs for the youth. The latest assessment of the program’s implementation reveals the creation of more than 400.000 permanent and temporary jobs in four years.

Education is one of my top priorities, because I myself am a pure product of the educational system.

Who’s your African of the year?

My African of the year is, without question, Nigeria’s President Muhamadu Buhari. He has managed to obtain a political changeover in Africa’s most economically and demographically powerful country. He has also demonstrated his determination to fight Boko Haram.

Follow the president on Twitter @mahamadouissouf

Come back tomorrow for the next TRUE Africa 100 and keep up to date using the hashtag #TRUEAfrica

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