Turn Nigeria’s Diversity To Strength, Obama Charges Buhari | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Turn Nigeria’s Diversity To Strength, Obama Charges Buhari

Posted: Jul 21, 2015 at 1:50 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Offers Partnership To Make Nigeria Model For Developing Nations  FG Lauds U.S. Offer To Help Tackle Insecurity, Corruption  Buhari Laments $20b Loss To Oil Theft Eight Killed, Three Injured In Yobe Car Blast

By Chesa Chesa, Abuja and Ikechi Nzeako, Lagos


President Barack Obama of the United States, on Monday, urged Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari to turn the country’s ethic diversity into a source of strength, assuring of his country’s readiness to stand with Africa’s most populous nation for as long as she remains on the path of democracy.

Speaking, when he hosted visiting President Buhari at the White House in Washington DC, Obama said no country could develop unless it is united, challenging the Nigerian leader to unify  citizens of his nation.

Speaking on activities of the Boko Haram sect, Obama told reporters in the Oval Office that Buhari has integrity and “a very clear agenda in defeating Boko Haram extremists of all sorts inside his country,” even as he urged him to combine military action against the group with social and economic programmes.

However, before the President could return home to perhaps begin implementing Obama’s advise, the deadly sect struck, killing three policemen and five militants  on Monday when a bomb-laden car exploded at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Damaturu, capital of Yobe State, according to witnesses and a hospital source.

The checkpoint is on a major highway that connects the city with Borno State capital Maiduguri. The road and villages along it are frequently hit by bombs or raids by suspected members of Islamist jihadi group, Boko Haram.

“We were stopped by the Army at a checkpoint. There was an SUV (sports utility vehicle) about five cars away from us. I believe two people were in that car. One came out and suddenly there was a loud sound and smoke filled the air,” Ahmed Mohammed, who was driving towards Damaturu from Maiduguri, told Reuters.

Responding to Obama’s charge, President Buhari praised the American government and some European countries for mounting pressure on the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan to ensure free and fair poll in Nigeria earlier this year.

The President said this while responding to the welcome remarks by President Obama before the start of the bilateral meeting between Nigerian and American officials at the Oval Office of the White House, Washington DC.

According to Buhari, without such pressure from influential countries,  “we would not be where we are today” in Nigeria, said an Aso Rock statement.

He recalled that the pressure started from the visit of the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, to the past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega.

“Nigeria will be ever grateful to President Obama and the United States for making Nigeria consolidate its gains on democracy”, the President said.

Buhari said he looked forward to a fruitful visit to America and engagement with his host government, while expressing delight that the U.S. government had indicated interest in partnering and helping the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration to bring to fruition its goals of tackling insecurity, corruption and youth unemployment.

President Obama had said in his welcome address that Buhari came into office with a reputation of integrity and a clear agenda and preparedness to bringing peace to Nigeria, curtailing Boko Haram insurgency and routing out corruption.

“On both issues of tackling insurgency and corruption in Nigeria, we look forward to how the United States can partner Nigeria to become an outstanding role model for developing countries”, Obama said.

While describing Nigeria as one of the most important countries in Africa, he also commended the peaceful election and transition that brought President Buhari to power.

While also lauding Nigeria’s track record in tackling Ebola and polio, President Obama said the United States looked forward to helping her overcome existing electricity challenges.

Before meeting with his U.S. counterpart, President Buhari was hosted to a breakfast meeting by American Vice-President, Joe Biden, where they compared notes on the terror war.

At the meeting, which held at the Naval Observatory, Biden shared with his guest what the U.S. had learnt from the terror war, saying that “victory cannot come from military option alone.”

He said that military option must be combined with strong socio-economic support programmes, promising that the U.S. would work with Nigeria in that direction.

Biden assured of the goodwill of the U.S. in rebuilding the Nigerian economy, but observed that corruption and weak institutions must be tackled, if Nigeria was to benefit from reforms.

He stressed that seasoned technocrats must manage key sectors of the Nigerian economy, and only then would investors be attracted to the country.

In his remarks, Buhari thanked the U.S. for standing by Nigeria in the run up to general elections early this year, noting that the visit of the Secretary of State, John Kerry, was critical as it sent home the message that America would not brook the subversion of the people’s will.

On oil theft, the President estimated losses at between $10 and $20 billion, stressing that such income could have been deployed with salutary impact on various spheres of national life such as education and healthcare, among others.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that both America and Nigeria pledged renewed commitment to work as partners at the very insightful meeting.