- Expresses worry over security, economy, as Nigeria prepares for election
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari met with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday and restated the three-pronged focus of his administration.
The President, in view of the forthcoming elections, also expressed concern over the security situation in the country and the economy.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement issued in London, said Buhari and May met during a bilateral meeting at 10, Downing Street, London, the headquarters of the Government of the United Kingdom and official residence of the British Prime Minister.
Adesina said, “the three-pronged focus of the current administration resonated through the conversation, as President Muhammadu Buhari held a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister, Theresa May on Monday at 10, Downing Street, London.”
During the encounter, Buhari told May that “We campaigned on three major issues, to secure the country, revive the economy and fight corruption.”
The President stressed: “We have elections next year, politicians are already pre-occupied with the polls, but I am bothered more about security and the economy.”
President Buhari further recalled the long history of cooperation on several fronts between the U.K and Nigeria – a former colony of the United Kingdom.
President Buhari said: “People ought to know how they arrived where they are, if they would move forward. It was a mistake for us to have stopped the teaching of history as a subject in schools, but we are returning it to the curriculum now.”
The President commended British companies like Unilever, Cadbury, and many others, “who have stood with Nigeria through thick and thin. Even when we fought a Civil War, they never left.
“But like Oliver Twist, we ask for more investments. We are encouraging more British companies to come to Nigeria.
“We appreciate the support you have given in training and equipping our military, particularly in the war against insurgency, but we want to also continue to work with you on trade and investment,” Buhari declared.
President Buhari also briefed May on the developments in the field of agriculture, stressing that it has put the nation firmly on the road to food self-sufficiency.
“I am very pleased with the successes in agriculture. We have cut rice importation by about 90%, made lots of savings of foreign exchange, and generated employment.
“People had rushed to the cities to get oil money, at the expense of farming. But luckily, they are now going back to the farms. Even professionals are going back to the land. We are making steady progress on the road to food security,” Buhari told May.
In the area of education, President Buhari said more investment was being made because “people can look after themselves if well educated. In this age of technology, education is very important. We need well-staffed and well-equipped institutions to move into the next generation.”
Adesina further said Climate Change and environmental issues also came up during the bilateral talks, saying that President Buhari brought up the necessity of inter-basin water transfer from Congo Basin to Lake Chad.
“The Lake Chad is now about 10 percent of its original size, and it is perhaps, one of the reasons our youths dare both the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean, to get to Europe.
“But if there is inter-basin water transfer, about 40 million people in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad, and other countries stand to benefit. I made the case during the Climate Change Summit in France.
“If Lake Chad is recharged, it will reduce the number of youths coming to Europe to increase social problems. We brought back about 4,000 people from Libya recently. Almost all of them were below 30, and Libya was not their final destination. They were headed to Europe.”
In her remarks, May said Britain would continue to work with Nigeria in the areas of training and equipping the military.
Adesina said May was particular about abduction of young schoolgirls by Boko Haram, noting that Britain would continue to give Nigeria the needed assistance.
The Prime Minister said the Buhari administration has “been making good progress on the economy,” and urged it to maintain the focus, despite approaching elections, and increase in political activities.
On education and Climate Change, May said: “Good grounding in education is good. It is important to equip young people for today’s world. It is also a good bastion and defence against modern slavery. The issue of the environment and climate change is very important, because of its impact on many countries in the Commonwealth. Stability at home is important, to curb illegal migration.”
Adesina further said May commended Buhari for the much he has been doing on improving trade and business for Nigeria, and noted that it was also time to boost intra-Commonwealth trade.