Buhari ready for talks with ‘credible’B’Haram
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said his government was ready to negotiate with insurgents and could trade-off prisoners for the release of the captured Chibok girls “only after verifying the credibility of various Boko Haram leaderships claiming that they can deliver.”
The Chibok girls have been in Boko Haram’s captivity for at least 464 days, leading to concerns that many of them may have been used for suicide missions and other purposes.
Buhari, who is currently in the United States on the invitation of President Barack Obama, disclosed this in yesterday’s interview with Cable News Network (CNN)’s Christine Amanpour, who asked whether, or not, the president was worried about hundreds of Nigerians killed by Boko Haram in the last three months.
Reminded by his interviewer of his campaign promises to surpass the previous administration on security and other socio-economic indices, Buhari stressed that it would be “too early for anybody to pass judgment based on my campaign promises.”
Citing kidnappings in the South-South and insurgency in the North-East, the president likening the prevailing situation to “military occupation of Nigeria,” declaring that nothing would work until the country is secure.”
Buhari, who wished Obama would “change his mind” and visit Nigeria, however, said he did not make any request to that effect.
“I wish he will change his mind to go to Nigeria; I didn’t’ ask him, but I will extend a formal invitation,” he told a curious Amanpour.
“We have agreed to form a Multinational Joint Task Force and to allow further investigation to verify the extent of human rights abuse’ he said.
Also, Buhari challenged American investors to take advantage of the liberal trade and investment climate to do profitable business in Nigeria.
Giving the challenge at a business forum organised by the United States Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Council on Africa in continuation of his visit to the U.S., he noted that his administration would go ahead with the ongoing privatisation.
This came as members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus of the House of Representatives, yesterday, expressed disappointment on the absence of a Nigerian lawmaker in Buhari’s entourage.
Former Governor of Kaduna State and Chairman Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa, also said “the visit may not solve the problem of Boko Haram.”
On his part, a university don and Professor of English at the University of Benin, Edo State, Tony Afejuku described the visit as a jamboree out of which nothing substantial would come.
According to Buhari: “It is my intention to create the necessary environment for future investment in Nigeria. We are the most populous nation, the largest market in Africa with vast human and natural resources and blessed with abundant, young, skilled workforc
“We are, therefore, a proud candidate to become the destination of choice for United States investments in Africa. I will work assiduously to welcome new investors into our country. I will like to remind you all that we are continuing in major privatisation programme with sectors ranging from telecommunication, energy, gas, solid minerals, aviation, health and infrastructural development but with improved moral architecture.’’
As an incentive, he said the administration would simplify visa procedures based on principle of reciprocity, and formally invited the American business community ‘‘to take advantage of our liberal trade and investment climate to do profitable business in Nigeria.’’
The President, therefore, enjoined the business communities in the U.S. and Nigeria to take advantage of the excellent political relations between the two nations to expand trade and investment activities, including joint venture projects in priority sectors of the Nigerian economy.
He continued: “While I recognise the pivotal role of government in facilitating and promoting economic growth, the private sector must assume an increasing role as part of the engine of growth. We will welcome genuine investors who are willing to come to Nigeria for solid mineral exploitation.’’
He pledged that his administration would fulfill its key campaign promises which included creation of employment opportunities for millions of Nigerian youths, saying, ‘‘generating employment was one of my key campaign promises. I will do my best to keep this promise.
“There is no other way to expand economic opportunities and create employment opportunities for millions of our youths than boosting domestic manufacturing, undertaking infrastructural development and industrialisation.
“Let me repeat, Nigeria will partner with genuine investors who are willing to join us to achieve our economic objective and at the same time realise handsome returns to recoup their investments.
“There is more to Nigeria than oil. This is why I will continue to stress the need for increased United States investments in our non-oil sector.
‘‘In this respect the present administration will be attentive to the needs of the business community and pursue policy that will strengthen the sectors that drive the growth.’’
Buhari reassured that his administration would reduce waste in the management of the nation’s economy with focus on prudence, accountability, good governance, respect for the rule of law, strict compliance with and observant of contractual agreements.
He noted that Nigeria had enormous economic potentials that required heavy funding which could not be sourced locally alone.
“In this regard, I want to use this platform to encourage United States foreign investment and funding agencies such as Oversea Investment Corporation and the United States Export-Import Bank to increase access to capital and funding of such businesses on favourable terms.’’
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Corporate Council on Africa, Mr. Paul Hinks, expressed the readiness of American investors to do business with the new government in Nigeria. He, therefore, invited Buhari to chair the Council’s summit slated for Ethiopia in November.
The PDP House caucus leader, Leo Ogor, representing Isoko North/Isoko South, lamenting the absence of even one lawmaker in Buhari’s entourage said:”Unfortunately, we can hardly see any parliamentarian in his entourage which is a little bit disappointing for us because definitely they are parliamentary issues that could have been discussed with the various caucuses in the United States Congress where the need arises. He said the development was a wrong step in the collective interest of the country.
Expressing his doubts, Musa asked: “What has America done to stop the insurgency in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan? Since their involvement, have they been able to find fundamental solutions to the problems in those countries? How much can we depend on America to solve the problem of Boko Haram?
For me, the solution to this problem is dialogue between the government and the insurgents,” Musa said, adding that “the government before now was not sufficiently committed to dialogue. Instead the government has continued to use force against Boko Haram and that is why the insurgents have continued to visit the people with calamity.
But Afejuku, who will speak on ‘Drama and the Niger Delta Struggle’ today at the 80th birthday colloquium in honour of theatre personality, Mr. Fred Agbeyegbe at the National Theatre, Lagos, said Nigeria does not need America to solve its seemingly intractable socio-economic problems. Instead, he noted that Nigeria needs the services of the men and women of integrity to propel the country forward.
According to Afejuku: “I don’t think we will get anything substantial from America for now. All of them are playing game; America is playing game. Just look at the request on money stolen. It’s something, but is that all we need? Also, America will not allow its troops to come to Nigeria to fight. So, it’s a jamboree.