President Muhammadu Buhari in faraway United Kingdom gave reasons why he declared his intention to seek re-election in 2019, saying he joined the race to silence naysayers.
Buhari while playing host to the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Justin Welby in London on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, said, “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”, the president said.
It would be recalled that ex-Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida had at various times championed opposition against the second term ambition of Muhammadu Buhari, citing gross failures and ineptitude in his style of administering the country since 2015 when the government came on board.
They had also played up the age factor, insisting that the president was too old to govern the country effectively, hence should take a deserved rest.
Buhari had taken stakeholders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) by surprise during their National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on Monday at the party’s secretariat to declare his intention to seek office for a second term.
Shortly after he let the cat out of the bag, he jetted out of the country to the United Kingdom where he is to meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May, prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings scheduled for April 18 to 20, 2018.
According to a statement by Presidential Spokesman, Femi Adesina, the president’s success stories cuts across various sectors of the economy, with agriculture being the most significant.
“We have cut the importation of rice by about 90%, 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,” the statement quoted Buhari as saying.
On war against insurgency, Buhari told his guest that the crisis that consumed former Libyan leader, Muammar Gadhafi, cannot be extricated from the current farmers-herders crisis, as arms found their way into the wrong set of people, a development that culminated in the Boko Haram issue as well.
He noted that there was a 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.
Responding to his guest’s comment on the clashes between herdsmen and farmers in different parts of Nigeria, the president submitted, “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 Gadhafi 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.”
He lamented that “irresponsible politics” has been brought into the farmers-herders’ crisis, but assured that enduring solutions would be found, and justice done to all concerned.
On Leah Sharibu, the schoolgirl from Dapchi still being held by insurgents, reportedly because she refused to renounce her Christian faith, the president 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 organisations. 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.”
In his response, Archbishop Welby said it was always a delight to see President Buhari, whom he has a tremendous respect for, adding: “You have my best wishes on your recent decision. 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. We will be praying for you.”
The Archbishop presented President Buhari with a copy of his recent book, ‘Re-imagining Britain. Foundations for Hope.’
Meanwhile, moves to curb the excesses of terrorism in the country has seen the Federal Government approving the establishment of Nigerian Army University in Biu, Borno State.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, disclosed this on Wednesday, shortly after the Federal Executive Council meeting, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Recall that Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, had, last June, said the army had already reached out to the National Universities Commission (NUC) to secure approval for the university.
Buratai had then explained that the university was being designed as a unique and specialised institution that would serve as solutions centre, especially to specific challenges facing the military and North East.