2019 not my priority now, says Buhari

Written by on April 17, 2018

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said he is not pre-occupied with the 2019 election in which he has indicated interest to run for a second term.

He told British Prime Minister Mrs. Theresa May in London that he is more concerned about his administration’s three-point programme than the forthcoming election.

The President declared his second term bid before travelling to the United Kingdom last Monday.

At a bilateral meeting with May at 10, Downing Street, London yesterday, Buhari said he could not afford to lose concentration on the economy, security and the anti-corruption war.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and publicity, Femi Adesina, the President said “We campaigned on three major issues – to secure the country, revive the economy and fight corruption. We have elections next year, politicians are already pre-occupied with the polls, but I am bothered more about security and the economy.”

Recalling that Nigeria and Britain have a long history of cooperation, Buhari said: “People ought to know how they arrived where they are, if they would move forward. It was a mistake for us to have stopped the teaching of history as a subject in schools, but we are returning it to the curriculum now.”

He praised British companies like Unilever, Cadbury, and others, “that have stood with Nigeria through thick and thin. Even when we fought a civil war, they never left.

“But like Oliver Twist, we ask for more investments. We are encouraging more British companies to come to Nigeria. We appreciate the support you have given in training and equipping our military, particularly in the war against insurgency, but we want to also continue to work with you on trade and investment.”

The President also briefed May on his administration’s strides in agriculture, which he said has put Nigeria “firmly on the road to food self-sufficiency”.

“I am very pleased with the successes in agriculture. We have cut rice importation by about 90%, made lots of savings of foreign exchange, and generated employment. People had rushed to the cities to get oil money, at the expense of farming.

“But luckily, they are now going back to the farms. Even professionals are going back to the land. We are making steady progress on the road to food security.”

The President noted that more investment was being made in education, adding: “People can look after themselves if well educated. In this age of technology, education is very important. We need well-staffed and well-equipped institutions to move into the next generation.”

On climate change and environmental issues, the President raised the necessity of inter-basin water transfer from Congo Basin to Lake Chad.

He said: “The Lake Chad is now about 10% of its original size, and it is perhaps one of the reasons our youths dare both the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean, to get to Europe. But if there is inter-basin water transfer, about 40 million people in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad, and other countries stand to benefit.

“I made the case during the Climate Change Summit in France. If Lake Chad is recharged, it will reduce the number of youths coming to Europe to increase social problems. We brought back about 4,000 people from Libya recently. Almost all of them were below 30, and Libya was not their final destination. They were headed to Europe.”

May said Britain would continue to work with Nigeria in training and equipping the military.

She said her country would continue to assist Nigeria in its bid to get back the abducted Chibok and Dapchi girls.

The Buhari administration, she said, “has been making good progress on the economy.” May urged the administration to remain focused despite the approaching elections, and increase in political activities.

On education and climate change, she said: “Good grounding in education is good. It is important to equip young people for today’s world. It is also a good bastion and defence against modern slavery.

“The issue of the environment and climate change is very important, because of its impact on many countries in the Commonwealth. Stability at home is important, to curb illegal migration.” she said.

May, who hailed the President for what he has been doing to improve trade and business for Nigeria, said it was also time to boost intra-Commonwealth trade.

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