“I’m ready to discuss with true reps of Boko Haram” – Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday expressed readiness for negotiation with Boko Haram for the release of Chibok girls.

This can, however, only be done if he is sure that he is meeting with true representatives of the violent group.

The President made the declaration during a live interview with the Cable News Network (CNN), on Tuesday night, as part of activities during his ongoing four-day official trip to the United States.

He also praised the grit and commitment to national interest of the average Nigerian, citing former Managing Director of Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim Ovia, and the Managing Director of Oando Plc, Mr. Wale Tinubu.

The CNN interviewer, Christianne Amanpour, had asked inquired about the President’s plan to tackle the twin problems of insurgency and corruption.

The question-and-answer session went thus:

There are reports in your country that there have been at least 400 deaths since you became president. And in relation to that, Amnesty International reports that your military has totally lost their credibility and trust of the people because of the human rights abuses; the killing of some 8000 people. How do you expect your military to be able to go against Boko Haram, to get the trust of the people, which could be a platform to Boko Haram’s grievances?

Yes, under Lake Chad Commission, we have agreed to form a multinational joint task force. So whatever happened before that decision was taken, we had to allow further investigation to verify the question of human rights abuse, and with that we must have known the decision taken by this government – Federal Government of Nigeria in changing the military command.

What about the over 200 Chibok Girls who were adopted so long ago, yet again, there has been a suggestion that the Boko Haram captors may trade them but incarcerate the inmate who they want to get out. Is your government willing to trade those girls in that regard?

We have to be very careful about the credibility of various BH leaderships coming out and claiming to be willing to deliver. We have to be very careful indeed, and we are taking our time; because we have to bring them safe back to their school.

So are you in principle against or will you consider negotiating with BH if you can verify the credibility of those who approach you?

I cannot be against it. I told you our main objective as a government is to secure those girls safe and sound back to their school and rehabilitate them to go back to normal life. So if we are convinced with the leadership who guarantee to deliver those girls safe and sound. We will be willing to negotiate what they want.

You came to power on a platform that you will do better than the previous president, in this regard, security, corruption, economy etcetera, but there have been hundreds of people killed since you become president, how can you do any better?

I think I can fulfill my promises for the next three to four years ahead of me, and I think it is too early for anybody to pass judgment on my transparent promises.

Well, about your campaign promise to root out corruption, if it turned out that some of the guilty ones were members of your own party or your own associates, would you come down on them too?

I would just have to.

Mr. President, are you disappointed that President Obama is yet again not going to Nigeria the biggest and most economically powerful country in Africa?

I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, but how I wished he’d change his mind and go to Nigeria.

Did you ask him, did he say he would?

I asked him; I’ll send a formal invitation

Do you support that process of trying an accused African leader in Africa rather than at the international criminal court?

Justice is justice, whether it is done in Africa or anywhere else in the world. The important thing is let justice be done; whatever evidences the prosecution has in Senegal, I think they should proceed.

The President had on Monday lauded the can-do spirit of the average Nigerian wherever he may be.

Speaking at a dinner organized for him by the US Chamber of Commerce and The Corporate Council on Africa, President Buhari had noted the presence of Ovia and Wale Tinubu.

He expressed pleasant surprise that both business leaders attended the dinner without a formal invitation from him.

Buhari noted that Wale Tinubu is “a good friend” of his associate, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu.

Jocularly, he expressed belief that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, must have “smuggled” Ovia into the dinner.

In all, he added, the average Nigerian has been a success story even outside the shores of their country mainly because of the commitment to success in their endeavours, in spite of challenges that they encounter.Delta newsroom logo

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