President Muhammadu Buhari has described the recent removal of Nigeria from watchlist of countries violating religious freedom, by the United States of America, as a welcome development.
He also spoke on the report of the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry on EndSARS which indicted the military and the police for extra judicial killings.
The president spoke when he hosted the U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, at the presidential villa, Abuja on Thursday.
President Muhammadu Buhari receives in audience the U.S. Secretary of State, Mr. Antony Blinken at the State House, Abuja. [PHOTO: Presidency]While appreciating the removal of Nigeria from watchlist of countries violating religious freedom, Mr Buhari noted that there was freedom of worship in the country, and “no one is discriminated against on the basis of his or her faith.’’
According to him, education is a priority in the country, “because when you educate a people, there are certain levels they will not fall below.”
The president equally appreciated the United States of America for allowing Nigeria to procure military hardware to fight terrorism in the country, and for the training given to Nigerian military.
“It’s helping us to stabilise the situation in the North-east, and we’ve made a lot of progress since 2015.
“We are doing a lot on security, and the people involved appreciate our efforts,” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari receives in audience the U.S. Secretary of State, Mr. Antony Blinken at the State House, Abuja. [PHOTO: Presidency]
On the EndSARS Probe Panel Report, Mr Buhari said the federal government ”would allow the system to exhaust itself, and therefore, await pronouncements from state governments which set up panels to probe police brutality in the country”.
He said: “So many state governments are involved, and have given different terms of reference to the probe panels.
“We at the federal have to wait for the steps taken by the states, and we have to allow the system to work.
“We can’t impose ideas on them. federal government has to wait for the reaction of the states.”
On development of democratic ethos, Mr Buhari said Nigeria had adopted the American model, “hook, line, and sinker, with its term limits. Those who have attempted to breach it were disappointed, if not disgraced.
“You are even lucky if you have two terms. Others try hard, and don’t get it. The American model has been accepted by Nigerians as the best,” he said.
He noted that Nigeria and her neighbours had been living with the impact of climate change for a while, “which has seen the Lake Chad shrink drastically from its original size, and affected the livelihood of about 30 million people in the Lake Chad Basin countries.
“That is why the youths defy the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean to attempt emigrating to Europe.
President Muhammadu Buhari receives in audience the U.S. Secretary of State, Mr. Antony Blinken at the State House, Abuja. [PHOTO: Presidency]“Inter-basin water transfer is needed to keep the youths at home, and they can resume their lives of farming, fishing, and animal husbandry.”
Mr Blinken, who had held a virtual meeting with the Nigerian president earlier in the year ,said jocularly that it was now good to see him “mask to mask, hoping that we will soon see face to face.”
He appreciated the contributions of Mr Buhari to protection of the climate, particularly his presence and contributions at the recent COP26 climate conference held in Glasgow, Scotland.
Mr Blinken observed that America and Nigeria had diverse challenges, “but a common denominator is security, and hoped for better partnerships, so that the bad guys won’t get the good guys.”
He described the report of the EndSARS probe panel as “democracy in action,” stressing that America equally had its own police brutality, and hoping that necessary reforms would be made.
Mr Bliken, who along with his Nigerian counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama, briefed journalists, pledged U.S. support for Nigeria in the areas of healthcare, economic, as well as security challenges.