• ‘Making noise about Leah Sharibu’ll not help’
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has given reasons why he declared his second term ambition before leaving for London, the United Kingdom, on Monday, during the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The president said he “declared because Nigerians were talking too much about; whether I would run or not.
“So, I felt I should break the ice. We have many things to focus on, like security, agriculture, economy, anti-corruption, and many others. We needed to concentrate on them, and politics should not be a distraction. Majority of Nigerians appreciate what we are doing, and that is why I am re-contesting.”
Buhari explained his motive when he received the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in London yesterday, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
Buhari told the cleric some of the successes of the administration.
“We have cut the importation of rice by about 90 percent, saving billions of dollars in the process. People who rushed into petrol money have now gone back to agriculture; even professionals have gone back to the land. Nigeria should be able to feed itself comfortably soon. I am so pleased,” he said.
The president also told Welby of his administration’s effort in the war against insurgency and stressed the need for continuous education of the people, “so that they can be free from religious manipulation.”
In his response to Welby’s comment on the clashes between herdsmen and farmers in different parts of Nigeria, Buhari said “the problem is even older than us. It has always been there, but now made worse by the influx of armed gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region. These gunmen were trained and armed by Muammar Gadaffi of Libya. When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms. We encountered some of them fighting with Boko Haram. Herdsmen that we used to know carried only sticks and, maybe, a cutlass to clear the way, but, these ones now carry sophisticated weapons. The problem is not religious, but sociological and economic. We are working on solutions.”
On Leah Sharibu, the schoolgirl from Dapchi still held by insurgents because she refused to renounce her Christian faith, the president said: “We are managing the matter quietly. Making noise would not help. We are collecting as much intelligence as possible, working with the Red Cross and other international organisations. That was how we got the Dapchi girls back, and the Chibok girls. There are too many fraudulent people around, who claim they can do this and that. We won’t deal with them.”
On his part, Welby said it was always a delight to see Buhari, “whom I have tremendous respect for,” and added: “You have my best wishes on your recent decision. I read your declaration speech. We are neutral as a church, but, we will pray for you.