President Muhammadu Buhari has opened up on why he disclosed on Monday April 9, 2018 that he would be seeking a second term in office next year.
Buhari, who is currently on an official visit to the UK, disclosed on Wednesday that he decided to declare his intention to seek re-election in 2019 because Nigerians were talking too much about whether he would run or not.
Speaking while receiving the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace, Justin Welby in London, he pointed out that majority of Nigerians appreciate the strides his administration has so far recorded.
The President expressed optimism that the declaration of his stand regarding 2019 would reduce distractions and help the government focus on key sectors like security, agriculture, economy, anti-corruption.
Buhari, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, 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.”
While reeling out the achievements of his administration, he stated that with what the government had done, Nigerians should be able to feed themselves, stressing that, “we have cut the importation of rice by about 90 percent, 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.”
On the war against insurgency, the President harped on 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 innocent lives.
Reacting to the Archbishop’s comment on clashes between herdsmen and farmers in different parts of Nigeria, he said, “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.”
Buhari however regretted 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.
Speaking on Leah Sharibu, the schoolgirl from Dapchi still being held by Boko Haram for refusing to renounce her Christian faith, the President said that efforts were being made to secure her release, adding that government had decided not to reveal efforts being made in that regard.
He however said his government was being careful in order not to fall into the hands of fraudsters while trying to secure the release of Sharibu. Buhari 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 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.”
Speaking earlier, Archbishop Welby said it was always a delight to see Buhari, “whom I have tremendous respect for,” adding that: “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.”
During the visit, the Archbishop presented the Nigerian president with a copy of his recent book, ‘Reimagining Britain. Foundations for Hope’.