WASHINGTON - US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has said that the "failure" by Nigeria's government to address young people's needs was breeding the radicalism seen in the Christmas Day bombing plot.
Clinton, responding to a question at a forum with state department employees this week, said Nigeria's key indicators such as literacy were going in the wrong direction and that corruption in the country was "unbelievable".
"The failure of the Nigerian leadership to respond to the legitimate needs of their own young people, to have a government that promoted a meritocracy - has meant that there is a lot of alienation in that country and others," she said.
"I think Nigeria faces a threat from increasing radicalisation that needs to be addressed, and not just by military means," she said.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian, has been charged with trying to ignite explosives in his underwear on a Northwest Airlines flight in Detroit, an attack foiled by fellow passengers.
Clinton said that Abdulmutallab, who is from a wealthy family, might have been going through a youthful phase of radicalism when he was roped in by Islamic extremists.
"Young people today see other options. They're all interconnected through the Internet."
Clinton and President Barack Obama have made the fight for good governance a priority in Africa.
Clinton recently told a forum in Abuja that lack of transparency and accountability was eroding Nigeria's legitimacy and the aspirations of its people. - Sapa-AFP