By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari said he declared his intention to run for another term in office on Monday because Nigerians appreciate what his administration is doing to uplift their standard of living.
Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, in a statement in Abuja, said Buhari stated this when he received the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Justin Welby in London on Wednesday.
President Buhari had on April 9, 2018, during the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) declared his intention to seek re-election in 2019.
“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,’’ President Buhari told the Archbishop.
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.
He said: “we have cut the importation of rice by about 90 per cent, 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, President Buhari stressed the need for continuous education of the people, “so that they can be free from religious manipulation.’’
According to him, no true religion advocates the hurting or killing of the innocent.
Responding to his guest’s comment on the clashes between herdsmen and farmers in different parts of Nigeria, the President said:”The problem is even older than us.
“It has always been there, but now made worse by the influx of gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region.
“These gunmen were trained and armed by Late 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” had been brought into the farmers/herders’ crisis, but assured that enduring solutions would be found, and justice done to all concerned.
On Leah Sharibu, the schoolgirl from Dapchi still being held by insurgents, reportedly because she refused to renounce her Christian faith, the President 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 organisations.
“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.’’
Archbishop Welby said it was always a delight to see President Buhari, “whom I have tremendous respect for.’’
“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.”
The Archbishop presented President Buhari with a copy of his recent book, ‘Reimagining Britain. Foundations for Hope.’