By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammadu Buhari has told the Bishop of Canterbury, His Grace Justin Welby, in London that he declared his intention to re-contest the Presidential election in 2019 because he felt that politics should not be allowed to distract his administration.
The President is currently in the United Kingdom on a state visit ahead of Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting scheduled for 18th-20th of this month.
In a statement made available by his Spokesman, Femi Adesina, yesterday, the President 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 also gave the assurance that his administration is still working on the release of the Leah Sharibu, the only victim of the Dapchi girls still in the custody of the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents.
“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.”
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 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.”
President Buhari 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.
The President recounted some successes of the administration to his guest, with whom he has built a deep friendship in recent times, and was quite particular about strides in agriculture.
“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 President said.
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.
The Archbishop said it was always a delight to see President Buhari, “whom I have 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.”
He, thereafter, presented Buhari with a copy of his recent book, ‘Reimagining Britain: Foundations for Hope.’