President Muhammadu Buhari has said though Militancy in the Niger Delta has impacted negatively on the economy and affected the positive intentions of international and local investors, his government will not use real force, “except when constrained to do so.”
The President had in the past said the Niger Delta militants will be treated like Boko Haram.
He has also pledged that the anti-corruption crusade in the country will be deepened and institutionalized to last beyond the life of his administration.
The President stated this when he met with the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, at an audience in State House, Abuja, on Tuesday.
He said, “We will insist on the standards we’re establishing. We are laying down administrative and financial instructions in the public service that must be obeyed. Any breach will no longer be acceptable.”
“We will retrain our staff, so that they understand the new orientation. And those who run foul of these rules will be prosecuted, no matter who is involved. But we will be fair, just and act according to the rule of law. Anyone perceived corrupt is innocent till we can prove it. We will work very hard to establish documentation for successful prosecution, and those in positions of trust will sit up.”
Buhari again expressed the country’s appreciation to US for its intervention before the 2015 polls, demanding free and fair elections in Nigeria, saying, “America did not do it because of what it stands to benefit from us. You did it for the Nigerian people. It tells so much what the U.S stands for in the world.”
He thanked the US government for supporting the Boko Haram insurgency with both hard and soft military help.
He said, “The training and intelligence that we could not muster ourselves, we received. The training has made Boko Haram less of a threat to Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region, while the military hardware has given our troops added confidence.”
On the economy, the President assured that the focus of his administration is on the diversification of the economy having learned our lessons from years of over dependence on oil.
In his remarks, Kerry commended Buhari’s courage in fighting corruption, saying: “We applaud what you are doing. Corruption creates a ready-made playing field for recruiting extremists. You inherited a big problem, and we will support you in any way we can. We will work with you very closely. We don’t want to interfere, but will offer opportunities as you require.”
He also pledged to assist in tackling the humanitarian challenges in the North-east, adding that his country would get the UK, France, and others “to augment the support.”
“Nigeria is priority for us. We won’t miss the opportunity to work together, because you are making significant progress,” Mr Kerry said.
In a separate meeting with governors of Borno, Bauchi, Benue, Kebbi, Kwara, Sokoto and Zamfara, which was at the instance of the United State Government, Kerry made commitment specifically on education with particular emphasis on girl-child education, commitment on health care and renewable energy.
On renewable energy the focus was solar and wind energy, to intervene in funding of renewable energy projects across the north in particular.
The Borno State Governor, Kassim Shettima, said a deadline of May 29th, 2017, has been set to resettle Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in their ancestral homes.
He disclosed the issue of child marriages, child prostitution, drugs addiction and gangterism were on the increase in the camp, hence the need to return them to their homes with or without international support.
He said, “On the issue of resettlement, the bulk of IDPs are from Borno State, the population of maiduguri has swelled from two million to three million now. And where there is a will there is always a way. Believe me by May 29th next year we want our people to go back to their homes. We are going to marshal whatever resources with or without international support to see that we have restored the dignity of our people. We cannot wait for eternity for manner for heaven from international community to develop our communities.
“The biggest IDP camp is in Kenya, the Kenyan government has finally summon the political courage to close down that camp. In most of the camps in Borno, there is challenge of early marriages, child prostitution, drug abuse, ganterism etc. The sooner we close them down the better. In any case no matter how good life is in the IDP camp there is no place like home.
“We want to restore their dignity, we commencing the rebuilding of Bama. By May 29th next year believe me, you will hear very little about IDP camp. We will adhere to the Kampala convention we will not compel anyone in IDP camps to go back to their community. But you know our people, they carry their poverty with dignity and they are willing to go back home.
“We have to credit to the president, a year and half ago Maiduguri was on the verge of falling into the hands of Boko Haram, 20 local governments were under their control but now most of our communities have been liberated and once full peace is restored we see nothing that will stop us from moving our people back to their communities,” he said.