By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday received the President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, who paid a state visit on him in the Presidential Villa.
The President at a joint press briefing held by both leaders said Nigeria would be willing to partner The Gambia to draw a political programme the will complement each other’s efforts on development.
Responding to question on the role Nigeria would play in helming the The Gambia overcome some of the reforms Barrow is undertaking, Buhari said “We did our best in the most critical time. Hopefully now the President (Barrow) will raise his team and we will raise a corresponding team and we will sit together and see how we can draw a political programme that will complement each other’s effort on development.”
Asked why he chose to visit Nigeria, the Gambian leader said “My visit is very important to us. We have always wanted to say thank you when Nigeria gave us all the support during and after the impasse. Nigeria has been supporting The Gambia for a long time in different areas like technical assistance in the area of education, judiciary.
We are really happy to come.
“When we met in Mali, he (Buhari) took a decision as a leader in a closed door meeting, he made one statement that changed everything, that if The Gambian President wants to challenge the sub-region, he is welcome. This was his words and that made a big difference as a leader. And that leadership role was very important not just for The Gambia but for Africa because the problem was an Africa problem with an Africa solution.
“So we are very grateful and that was why we wanted to come and say ‘thank you’. There is a saying in my country that if you want to thank a farmer for a good job, you have to visit him at his farm and that is why we are here.”
Asked what deal he struck with his predecessor, Yahaya Jammeh, that made way for smooth transition, Barrow said “Basically, the deal was ECOWAS was involved, UNDP and the international community was involved to mediate and this mediation, Nigeria was involved and Liberia as the chair was involved, the Guinean President and the Mauritanian President were also involved. The Guinean President and the Mauritanian President were physically on the ground, for him to accept the will of the people, exit to allow us assume office. This was the deal, he accepted to go on exile which we couldn’t guarantee his security. This was the deal.”