Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
In the aftermath of the European Parliament, the legislative hand of the European Union (EU), having said that no progress has been made in the war against Boko Haram in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari said things were a lot better.
Buhari made this declaration on Monday on the sidelines of the inaugural UK-Africa Investment Summit 2020, in London, when he met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
According to the EU report released last Thursday, the security situation in Nigeria has worsened, saying there is no excuse for the abuse of human rights. While making a statement on the security situation of the country, it also recalled the promise of President Buhari on stopping activities of militant insurgents, the report urging the President to implement his campaign promises.
In a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari used the occasion to bring Johnson up to speed on developments in Nigeria, reeling out gains in different areas of national endeavour.
On the war against the Islamist insurgency, the President told the UK Prime Minister that things were a lot better, citing gains in disabusing of the minds of the public on sympathising with Boko Haram; he, however, spoke of the challenge of resettling internally displaced people, an issue, he said, that which is being addressed.
“We have a long history with the British military, and we are collaborating,” President Buhari added.
The President also told Johnson of strides in agriculture, leading almost to self-sufficiency in rice and other grains, saving the country billions in foreign exchange, which are now deployed to other areas of development.
On the anti-corruption war, the President said though it was slow but painstaking, the cooperation of the National Crime Agency of UK was still needed, particularly in the investigation of fugitives from Nigeria finding accommodation in the United Kingdom.
According to Buhari, Climate Change was a challenge to Nigeria and neighbouring African countries, especially with the shrinkage of the Lake Chad to a fraction of its original size.
He also said the country was focused and making progress in education, particularly that of the girl-child.
Johnson in his remarks thanked President Buhari for being a regional leader who gives strong encouragement to the West, congratulating him on jobs being created through agriculture, whilst urging him to do more.
He equally lauded President Buhari for what he calls the “social and economic benefits” that have accrued to the country since he emerged, and that the necessary hand of fellowship would be extended on the war against corruption through the UK’s National Crime Agency.
The British PM pledged to cooperate with Nigeria and other African countries in the inter-basin water transfer, which could solve the Lake Chad problem and enhance security in the sub-region.
On the Commonwealth Free Trade Area being espoused by President Buhari, the Prime Minister applauded the idea and pledged a careful consideration.
He charged the President to keep the national autonomy of his country intact, noting that in the future Nigeria would not just be a continental but an international power.