President Muhammadu Buhari, on Saturday, in London said the partial closure of the Nigerian borders since August last year, was not intended to punish the neighbouring countries, but a measure aimed at strengthening the country’s security and economy.
The president, who met with a select group of Nigerians, including the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Anthony Joshua, who presented his championship belt to the president, however congratulated Joshua, who many described as the cynosure of all eyes at the forum.
According to a statement by one of the ruler’s spokesmen, Mr. Femi Adesina, Buhari said the period of border closure was being used to take stock of the threats that activities at the borders posed to the country’s security and economy.
Buhari also disclosed that the Nigerian farmers had been celebrating the border closure, because it has helped to drastically reduce smuggling of agricultural produce as well as arms and ammunition into the country.
Buhari observed that the country has since enjoyed food security, because of the “very good last three rainy seasons.”
The president also noted that the federal government’s reduction in the price of fertilizers by 50 per cent as well as the presidential directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria to withhold forex for food imports into the country had helped in saving billions of naira for the country.
The statement stated: “Commending Nigerians in the Diaspora for their huge home remittances – more than $25 billion in 2018 – the President also lauded their individual performances in their various fields of expertise.
“Explaining the achievements of his administration in implementing its three-point campaign agenda by focusing on fixing the economy, providing security and tackling corruption, the president said Nigeria’s ‘huge, vibrant youth population’ has been encouraged to go back to the farms and are ‘living decent and respectable lifestyles’.
“On security, he said ‘it is common sense that you can only run the country if it is secured,’ adding that the country ‘has not done badly in the North East.’
“Describing the havoc done by corruption to the image and economy of Nigeria as ‘terrible,’ President Buhari said his administration has now focused on retrieving stolen fixed assets and returning the proceeds of the sale ‘to the treasury through the Treasury Single Account (TSA),’ so that nobody can return them to the convicts even after his tenure.”
The statement stated that various speakers at the meeting lauded the president’s commitment to bequeathing a lasting legacy to the country.
According to him, renowned research biochemist, Adebayo Olamideji, went down memory lane to recall what he described as Buhari’s nationalistic disposition by his decision to save 1,250 Nigerian students from Oyo State studying abroad from indebtedness and shame when he was the military Head of State by agreeing to pay over $6.2 million they owed.
While felicitating with Joshua for regaining his world championship belt, Buhari acknowledged him for putting Nigeria “on the world map again like Hogan Bassey.”
Joshua, while presenting his belts to the president, the statement stated, pledged to “stand up for Nigeria anytime you need me.”