President Muhammadu Buhari Saturday in London said that the partial closure of Nigeria’s borders is not meant to punish her neighbours, but to strengthen the country’s security and economy.
At a meeting with a select group of the Nigerian Community in the United Kingdom, the President, according to a statement by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), explained that the period of closure will be used for stock-taking on threats to the nation’s security and economy.
He noted that Nigerian farmers have been celebrating the closure which has drastically reduced smuggling of agricultural produce as well as arms and ammunition.
President Buhari attributed the country’s virtual food security position to the “very good last three rainy seasons;” the federal government’s reduction in the price of fertilizers by 50 per cent and the presidential directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria not to give foreign exchange for food imports thereby saving the nations billions of naira.
Commending Nigerians in the Diaspora for their huge home remittances – more than $25 billion in 2018 – the President also lauded their individual performances in their various fields of expertise.
Explaining the achievements of his administration in implementing its three-point campaign agenda by focusing on fixing the economy, providing security and tackling corruption, the President said Nigeria’s “huge, vibrant youth population” have been encouraged to go back to the farms and are “living decent and respectable lifestyles.”
On security, he said “it is common sense that you can only run the country if it is secured,” adding that the country “has not done badly in the North East.”
Describing the havoc done by corruption to the image and economy of Nigeria as “terrible,” President Buhari said that his administration has now focused on retrieving stolen fixed assets and returning the proceeds of the sale “to the treasury through the Treasury Single Account (TSA),” so that nobody can return them back to the convicts even after his tenure.
The President congratulated the current World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Anthony Joshua, who was the cynosure of all eyes during the meeting, on regaining his world championship belt, as well as putting Nigeria “on the world map again like Hogan Bassey.”
On his part, Joshua, who later presented his belts to the President, pledged to “stand up for Nigeria anytime you need me.”
Various speakers lauded the President’s commitment to bequeathing a lasting legacy.
A renowned research biochemist, Adebayo Olamideji, went down memory lane to recall President Buhari’s nationalistic disposition by his decision to save 1,250 Nigerian students from Oyo State studying abroad from indebtedness and shame when he was military Head of State by agreeing to pay over $6.2 million.
Comparing him to former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, Oladimeji said the President has started “turning Nigeria around for good,” urging him not to allow detractors to “grind him down.”
The meeting with the Nigerian Community was coordinated by the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who described President Buhari as “diaspora-friendly,” while the President commended her for efforts in coordinating the affairs of diaspora Nigerians in different parts of the world.