From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that Nigeria joined the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) to oust Gambian former President Yahya Jammeh, who had refused to accept results of election he lost in 2016, adding it was the least the country could do in leading an onslaught against the sit-tight President.
The President spoke Thursday at State House, Abuja, while receiving President of the Republic of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, who was on a courtesy visit.
According to a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari said: “We cannot stop educating people that they are doing themselves a lot of favour when they do the right things in a democracy.”
The President added: “The future of our countries lies in our hands. We must respect our people, and appreciate their support. And when the people do the right things, they do themselves a lot of favour.”
On Jammeh’s ouster, Buhari recalled: “I was in Gambia physically at least two times. It was the least we could do to stabilize the region. We’ve accepted multi-party democracy, and we must comply with its tenets. By supporting you, we were supporting ECOWAS. We are dealing with our own troubles here, but we will continue to support you bilaterally, and through ECOWAS.”
As The Gambia goes to the polls next year, the President Buhari pledged Nigeria’s support in different ways possible.
President Barrow said his visit was actually to say thank you to Nigeria once again for its multifarious helps, noting that the support had been unflinching since he got to office in 2017.
“You have given us technical support in the Ministry of Education, in Ministry of Justice, and in many other areas. We are grateful,” the Gambian President said.
He disclosed that The Gambia was recovering from 22 years of dictatorship, security problems, lack of infrastructure, and a parlous economy. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission was also sitting, to redress injustices of the past, and heal the injuries.
Going forward, President Barrow said his country still needed Nigeria’s stabilizing force, “as things would have been very difficult for us without the invaluable support you gave.”