President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday explained that too much talk by Nigerians about his 2019 intention was the reason he had to declare to seek for second term before leaving Nigeria to the United Kingdom.
“I declared before leaving home 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. The majority of Nigerians appreciate what we are doing, and that is why I am re-contesting,” he said.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, quoted him as disclosing this when he received the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Justin Welby in London on Wednesday.
Buhari had on Monday April 9, during the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC), declared that he would be seeking re-election in 2019.
Buhari, whose visit to UK attracted protests by Nigerians living in London, narrated some successes of his administration.
He said, “We have cut the importation of rice by about 90 per cent, 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.”
On the war against insurgency, he stressed the need for continuous education of the people, “so that they can be free from religious manipulation,” adding that no true religion advocates the hurting or killing of the innocent.
On herdsmen killings of farmers in Nigeria, Buhari told his guest, “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. But we are working on solutions.”
On Leah Sharibu, the schoolgirl from Dapchi still being held by insurgents, allegedly for refusing to renounce Christian faith, Buhari 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 organizations. There are too many fraudulent people around, who claim they can do this and that. We won’t deal with them. That was how we got the Dapchi girls back, and the Chibok girls.”
Archbishop Welby told Buhari during the meeting, “I read your declaration speech. We are neutral as a church, but we will pray for you. Great statesmen are those who run for the good of their country.”
He thereafter presented Buhari with a copy of his recent book, “Reimagining Britain. Foundations for Hope.”
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