President Muhammadu Buhari Monday participated at the program of Opening Plenary of the UK-Africa Investment Summit with other leaders, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President El-Sisi Abdelfattah of Egypt, President Macky Sall of Senegal.
On the sidelines of the Summit, President Buhari held bi-lateral meetings with Prime Minister Johnson of Britain and President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana.
In his meeting with Johnson, Buhari, according to a statement by Femi Adesina, his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), brought the British Prime Minister up to speed with developments in Nigeria, reeling out gains in different areas of national endeavour.
President Buhari told P.M Johnson of strides in agriculture, leading almost to self-sufficiency in rice and other grains, saving the country billions in foreign exchange, which are now deployed to other areas of development.
On the war against insurgency, the President said things were a lot better, with the disabuse of the minds of the people on the true philosophy of Boko Haram, and the main challenge being in the area of resettling displaced people, which is being tackled frontally.
“We have a long history with the British military, and we are collaborating,” President Buhari added.
On the anti-corruption war, the President said though it was slow but painstaking, the cooperation of the National Crime Agency of UK was still needed, particularly in the investigation of fugitives from Nigeria finding accommodation in the United Kingdom.
Climate change, President Buhari said, was a challenge to Nigeria and neighbouring African countries, especially with the shrinkage of the Lake Chad to a minuscule of its original size.
The Nigerian Leader also said the country was focused and making progress on education, particularly that of the girl child.
P.M Johnson thanked President Buhari for being a regional leader who gives strong encouragement to the West, congratulating him on jobs being created through agriculture, and urging him to do more.
He equally lauded the Nigerian President for what he called the “social and economic benefits” that have accrued to the country since he emerged, and that the necessary hand of fellowship would be extended on the war against corruption, through the National Crime Agency.
The British P.M pledged to cooperate with Nigeria and other African countries in the inter-basin water transfer, which could solve the Lake Chad problem, and enhance security in the sub-region.
On the Commonwealth Free Trade Area, being espoused by President Buhari, the Prime Minister applauded the idea, and pledged a careful consideration.
He charged the Nigerian Leader to keep the national autonomy of his country intact, noting that in the future, Nigeria would not just be a continental but international power.
President Buhari, in his meeting with Akufo-Addo of Ghana said that the partial closure of Nigeria’s borders is not caused solely because food products, particularly rice, were being smuggled into Nigeria, but also because arms and ammunition, as well as hard drugs were being ferried into Nigeria.
He said he could not keep his eyes open, and watch youths being destroyed through cheap hard drugs, and compromised security caused by unbridled influx of small arms.
“When most of the vehicles carrying rice and other food products through our land borders are intercepted, you find cheap hard drugs, and small arms, under the food products. This has terrible consequences for any country,” President Buhari said.
He said it was regrettable that the partial border closure was having “negative economic impact on our neighbours,” but added that “we cannot leave our country, particularly the youths, endangered.”
The President said the Sahel region was awash with small arms, which accounts for severe security challenges in Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.
“We are in fact the biggest victims,” he lamented.
On time frame for reopening the borders, President Buhari said it would not happen till the final report of a committee set up on the matter was submitted and considered.
“We will get things sorted out. Our farmers, especially those who grow rice, now have a market, and are happy, and we are also concerned about hard drugs and weapons. Once the committee comes up with its recommendations, we will sit and consider them,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo, while showing understanding of the need for Nigeria to protect her citizens, pleaded for “an expedited process, because the Nigerian market is significant for certain categories of business people in Ghana.”