President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday assured the United Kingdom, UK, Prime Minister, Theresa May, of his commitment to conduct free, fair and credible elections in 2019.
“I assure you that I’m all out for free, fair and credible elections,” he told visiting May during a bilateral meeting at the Aso Villa Abuja, even as he welcomed UK’s support at strengthening democratic institutions in the country.
Expressing satisfaction over the recent outing of APC at the polls, Buhari said: “I’m very pleased that my party is doing very well. The High Commissioner will brief you more. The recent successes in polls in Katsina, Bauchi, and Kogi have boosted our morale greatly.”
The President, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said Nigeria has accepted multiparty democracy and “that is putting politicians on their toes, forcing them to work harder.”
On the anti-corruption campaign, he applauded the British support to the country, noting that the success of the fight was very important to ordinary people in the country.
“We had great opportunities and resources between 1999 and 2014, due to high oil prices. But when we came in 2015, oil prices plunged to as low as 37 dollars per barrel.
“What we have been doing since 2015 is to focus on infrastructure development, despite low earnings. Work is ongoing in roads, rail, power, and many others,” he said.
On the exit of Britain from the European Union, Brexit, Buhari noted that it provides an opportunity to strengthen the historic ties between Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
He also thanked the UK government for the support on security and the fight against insurgency in the North Eastern part of Nigeria, as well as the improved trade relations between both countries.
“I am very grateful to the British government under your leadership for the help in security, particularly your training team that is in our institution in Kaduna,” he said.
Earlier, in remarks before the bilateral meeting, the Nigerian leader underscored the need for UK’s support on reviving of Lake Chad, which is a means of livelihood for millions of people.
In her remarks, Prime Minister May welcomed the assurance by the Nigerian government on credible elections in 2019, stating that she was pleased to be in Abuja to continue the “excellent discussions”.
She she started with President Buhari in London in April, this year, particularly on security, trade, asset recovery and the fight against corruption, adding that “Security and defence cooperation are very important steps to address Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa”.
On the recovery of Nigerian asset stashed in her country, the Prime Minister told President Buhari: “we do not want to hold anything that belongs to Nigeria people, but we follow the judicial process, which can be slow.”
She pleaded with President Buhari to use his position as ECOWAS Chairman to keep the issue of human trafficking on the front burner in the sub-region.
Speaking on the meeting, Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama said two agreements have been signed between the two countries.
“The first one was Defence and Security Partnership between the two countries. It was signed by the respective national security advisers and the second one was on Economic Development Forum that has been set up,” he said.
The Minister said the signing of the two agreements clearly highlighted the two priority areas in the countries relationship at the moment.