President Muhammadu Buhari has clarified his Monday’s declaration of intention to run for another term in office on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
While receiving the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Justin Welby, in London, the United Kingdom yesterday, Buhari said he declared because Nigerians were talking too much and he needed to break the ice.
“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 and anti-corruption crusade.
“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.”
A statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said President Buhari 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.
“We have cut the importation of rice by about 90%, 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,” the president said.
On the war against insurgency, he stressed the need for the continuous education of the people “so that they can be free from religious manipulation,” noting that no true religion advocates the hurting or killing of the innocent.
On Welby’s comment on the clashes between herdsmen and farmers in different parts of Nigeria, Buhari submitted: “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.”
The president lamented that “irresponsible politics” has been brought into the farmers/herders’ crisis, but noted 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 cleric said.
Welby presented President Buhari with a copy of his recent book, ‘Reimagining Britain. Foundations for Hope.’
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that there will be no electronic voting in the 2019 general elections as being speculated in some quarters.
The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, disclosed this yesterday during a press briefing after a three-day conference on “The use of technology in elections” in Abuja.
Yakubu said rather than electronic voting, the electoral umpire would deploy technology in the collation and transmission of results which he noted ensures accuracy much more than the manual method.
The chairman stressed the need for citizens’ protection during the voting, collation and transmission of results, saying with technology, elections are now in peoples hands and not easy to manipulate.
According to him, election management bodies from the west and southern African countries are willing to take advantage of the opportunities offered by technological innovations to improve the credibility of the electoral process and to enhance the sanctity of the ballot and integrity of electoral outcomes.