"You can't just have this level of inequality persist. That's what's fueling all this stuff," Clinton said, according to Nigerian newspaper This Day.
Clinton spoke at Nigeria's annual ThisDay Awards and appeared alongside Cherie Blair, the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The “stuff” Clinton spoke of is an overwhelming increase in sectarian violence occurring mostly in the northern regions of the country and perpetrated by militant Islamist group Boko Haram. Monday, the group claimed responsibility for the deaths of 12 soldiers and three beheaded government informants.
Although Clinton urged Nigeria to solve the root of its violence problem, he also assured the nation that the use of military force should be considered as an option to increase stability.
Despite Africa’s biggest oil producer, poverty in Nigeria is steadily rising. According to 2010 figures Nigeria's National Bureau of Statistics released Monday, more than 60 percent of Nigerians were living in "absolute poverty," up from 54.7 percent in 2004.
The data also showed that in Nigeria's northern regions most plagued with violence, nearly 75 percent of people are poverty-stricken.
"It is almost impossible to cure a problem based on violence with violence," Clinton said. "You also have to give people something to look forward to when they get up in the morning."
Boko Haram has been blamed for the deaths of 286 people this year, according to an Associated Press count.
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