•Says we are ready for swap
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in New York, United States stated his administration’s readiness to swap the abducted schoolgirls, who Boko Haram abducted more than two years ago.
He has therefore, extended an invitation to the United Nations as negotiator to demonstrate its commitment to the release of the girls, who were seized from Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.
The Jonathan administration had embarked on high-level negotiation with the terrorist sect, but realised at the last minute that it was a scam.
Buhari’s government has also tried thrice to secure the girls’ release, but failed, according to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who said that one of the negotiations, the group reneged and set new demands at the dying moment.
President Buhari extended the invitation Wednesday at the bilateral meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon at the sidelines of the 71st UN General Assembly in New York.
Buhari told Ki-moon that Nigeria would welcome intermediaries from the global body. The President assured that Nigeria was willing to bend over backwards, to get the Chibok girls released from captivity.
“The challenge is in getting credible and bonafide leadership of Boko Haram to discuss with. The split in the insurgents group is not helping matters. Government had reached out, ready to negotiate, but it became difficult to identify credible leaders. We will welcome intermediaries such as UN outfits to step in,” he said.
The President reiterated that the teachings of Boko Haram were far from being Islamic, as neither Islam, nor any other religion, advocates hurting the weak and innocent.
“The fact that they kill men, women, children, and other people wantonly, and shout Allahu Akbar (God is great) shows that they do not know that Allah at all. If they did, they would not shed innocent blood,” Buhari said.
He thanked Ki-moon for the moral and material support given to Nigeria, which has enabled the country surmount many of her challenges.
Responding, Ki-moon commended President Buhari on the anti-corruption war, saying: “You are highly respected by world leaders, including myself. Your persona has given your country a positive image.”
He said the UN recognised the achievements of the Buhari administration against Boko Haram, urging that human rights be observed always to prevent a repeat of the scenario being witnessed in Syria.
Ki-moon also thanked President Buhari for his commitment to issues on climate change.