Real concerns Archbishop Welby raised before Buhari

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury

• President Disappears From Abuja House
• Presidency Silent On Meeting With May

Contrary to official statement from the Presidency concerning the meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Justin Portal Welby, it has emerged that the Anglican cleric raised concerns about the security situation in Nigeria, particularly attacks on Christian communities.

This is coming just as The Guardian gathered that President Buhari kept away from Abuja House, where he experienced some heckling from protesters last August.

A transcript of the discussion between the two leaders, which The Guardian obtained, showed that the Archbishop was very worried about the herders farmers’ conflicts and excruciating poverty in the country.

According to the transcript, the Archbishop told the President that no “country or society can flourish without excellent education,” impressing it upon him “how education helps tackle poverty.”

The English host informed his visitor of the vital role churches in England play, not just in educating a million children, but in providing them with values, identity and purpose.

Archbishop Welby, therefore, expressed deep concern about the suffering resulting from raids on Christian communities and villages, particularly as far as Delta State and urged the President to put in place measures to restore confidence in neutrality of the federal authorities.

While regretting the very many deaths and possible escalation of violence in the country, the Archbishop said the poor are suffering most for those tragedies, and urged Buhari to do everything in his power to secure the release of 14 year-old Christian girl, Leah Sharibu, who refused to convert to Islam.

The Archbishop told Buhari how he paid a pastoral visit to Nigeria in 2014 after the abduction of the Chibok girls, assuring of his continued prayers for the release of Sharibu and other Chibok girls still in Boko Haram captivity.

On the President’s disappearance from the official residence of the Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, otherwise known as Abuja House, and the proposed meeting with the British Premier, Theresa May, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Public Affairs, Femi Adesina, kept mum.

When our reporter called at Abuja House on Wednesday and Friday, there were no signs of the usual movement of vehicles and personnel that characterised the President’s two prolonged medical vacations of last year.

A security officer, who answered the bell on Wednesday evening responded with hostility and directed the reporter to the Northumberland Avenue, office of the Nigerian High Commission.

On Friday evening, when The Guardian visited, the residence was still quiet and the only member of staff seen closing around 6pm, told the reporter, “l don’t work there. Leave me alone, this Sahara Reporters people.”

Perhaps, out of fear of a recurrence of the heckling by protesters, which forced him to cut short his second medical vacation last August, after several weeks of treatment and recuperating at the Abuja House, President Muhammadu Buhari, seemed to have abandoned the West London property to a secretive hotel, since arriving in London a few days ago, ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Conference beginning on Monday.

Also, the president’s proposed meeting with the British Prime Minister is being kept secretive, even as it is unlikely the two leaders may meet ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM).

Attempts to speak to the President’s Special Adviser on Media on Friday evening, to ascertain if the President had met with Mrs. May, met with a resounding: “no comment.”

When asked why the President didn’t officially transmit power, as alleged by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Adesina also responded “no comment.”

On whether the President was using this visit to attend to his private affairs, as the PDP National Publicity Secretary claimed, Adesina defended the President’s right to mix business and pleasure, saying:”It’s a free world.”

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