President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday met behind closed doors with the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, in London, the United Kingdom (UK).
The president’s Personal Assistant on Social Media, Alhaji Bashir Ahmad, made this known on his tweeter handle, @BashirAhmad, in Abuja. He did not give details of the meeting.
“President Muhammadu Buhari receives national leader of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (Jagaba) today in London,’’ he twitted.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports, Buhari, who is on an official visit to London, had on Wednesday met with the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Justin Welby in London where he gave reasons for declaring his intention to run for another term in office.
“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.
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“The majority of Nigerians appreciate what we are doing, and that is why I am re-contesting,’’ Buhari told the archbishop.
While in Britain, the president is billed to hold discussions on Nigeria-British relations with the UK Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May, prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings scheduled for April 18 to 20.
A presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, had earlier disclosed that “The President will also meet the Chief Executive Officer of Royal Dutch Plc, Mr. Ben van Beurden, in connection with Shell and other partners’ plan to invest $15 billion in Nigeria’s oil industry.”
Also at the weekend, Buhari declared that his administration would do its best to justify the confidence and trust that Nigerians reposed in it.
He said wicked people plundered the country and kept Nigerians poor.
The president spoke in London yesterday while receiving the Buhari Diaspora Support Organisation, led by Mr. Charles Efe Sylvester.
“We will do our best to justify your trust in us, and that confidence won’t be abused. I am happy that people like you are here, on your own, defending the country. You have shown courage and sacrifice. I assure you that your confidence in us won’t be abused, we will do our best to justify it,” Buhari said.
He noted that Nigeria was gifted with tremendous human and natural resources, but expressed regret that “failure of some of the leadership we had in the past led to our not being able to capitalise on resources to improve the lot of the people.”
A statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, yesterday quoted Buhari as saying that the damage done to the Nigerian economy in the years of plunder was massive, and that government was doing its best to recover some of the loot, but noted that it was impossible to identify and recover all.
“If they had used 50 per cent of the money we made, when oil prices went as high as $143 per barrel, and stabilised at $100 with production at 2.1 million barrels per day for many years, Nigerians would have minded their businesses. You could almost grow food on our roads, as they were abandoned.
The stealing was so much, and they were so inept that they could not even cover the stealing properly. I wonder how all those things could have happened to our country,” the president lamented.
The coordinator of the group, Sylvester, said: “You met a difficult situation, but you have overcome most of them. We are happy with the revolution in the agricultural sector, the ease of doing business, the anti-corruption war, the employment of youths through the N-Power programme, and the blockage of leakages in the public sector through the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
“We are proud of the speed with which you recovered the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls. It shows you as a worthy general. We are happy that you have declared for 2019. The majority of Nigerians are happy, but agents of corruption and darkness are unhappy.”
But the opposition Labour Party (LP) scored the Buhari’s administration low and admonished the president to drop his second term ambition in the interest of the country.
The National Chairman of the LP, Dr. Mike Omotosho, in a statement, particularly urged Buhari to yield the ground for the younger generation of Nigerians to administer the country.
Omotosho described the last three years of the Buhari-led administration as a disaster, arguing that the vast majority of Nigerians have been reduced to paupers due to poor governance.
He made reference to the recurring farmers, herdsmen clashes and the low value of the naira against foreign currencies to buttress his assertions.
He urged the citizenry to give the LP an opportunity to administer the country in 2019.
“The three years of the APC and President Buhari’s mandate have, in all honesty, and by all empirical statistics, reduced the vibrant and energetic people of Nigeria to paupers.
“President Buhari may have given his best, but the encumbrances of old age may have conspired to deny him the energy, tact and strategy needed to extricate the nation from economic doldrums.”
LP advised the president and his colleagues in the old brigade to quit the stage for young men and women.
“This is because the indices of a deteriorating economy, the fast disappearing business environment predicated on poor policy formulation and unimaginative interpretation of economic variables, have produced unenviable records for the Nigerian citizens, who are today grappling with job losses, poor per capital income as a result of which about 6 million people are said to have lost their jobs in the last three years.
“The grim consequence of the poor response to the challenges facing Nigeria saw the naira plunge into a weak currency hovering between 360 and 365 to a dollar.
The inflation rate, though dropping in recent months, had remained precariously at 13.3 per cent according to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics.
“The GDP growth is 0.8 per cent which makes the economy very fragile, for a country, in which annual population growth rate is 3.2 per cent even as the Nigerian Population Commission had just released a report that the nation is now 198 million people.
“Foreign Direct Investment, which was $14.5 billion four years ago is now less than $7 billion, industrial capacity has also gone down in the last three years and incapacitated the manufacturing sector, which triggered the job losses.”