President Muhammadu Buhari held a formal official meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday where he assured the world that his administration was stabilising the attacks by herdsmen across Nigeria.
Buhari, who gave the assurance at the White House, said that Nigerians were concerned about the resort to arms by some herdsmen.
The Nigerian president described the situation in which more than 2,100 have died this year as alien to the age-long peaceful coexistence between herders and farmers across the country.
“The problem of cattle herders is a very long historical problem. What is of a concern is that before now the Nigerian herders are known to carry sticks and machetes and cut follies for their animals but these ones are carrying AK 47.
“So, I don’t think we should underrate Libya, 43 years of Gaddafi people were being recruited from the Sahel and people were being killed.
“With the demise, they moved from their country and their region with their training and their weapons and that is what aggravated the situation.
“We are doing our best to ensure we stop the cross border movement and so on. It will take time. We are stabilising the situation in Nigeria.”
He explained that Nigeria was happy with the U.S. trying to see the end of ISIS, saying this has helped Nigeria a lot because the Boko Haram in Nigeria had one time made a statement that they belonged to ISIS.
“Now that ISIS has been virtually dealt with, we are very happy with that,” he said.
On security, Buhari said he was very grateful to the U.S. for “agreeing to sell to us the aircraft we asked for and the spare parts”.
“We are even more grateful for the physical presence of the United States military who are training in our institutions and who also go to the front in the northeast to see how they are doing.
“The commitment of the United States to get rid of terrorism across the world, we have first hand experience of that and we are very grateful for it,” he said.
He explained that Chibok girls’ kidnap was before his administration came into power and did something to rescue some of the girls who were abducted on April 14, 2014.
He said that the abducted Dapchi girls were 106, out of which 100 were rescued, four died, and one still in captivity.
“We are very grateful to the United Nations Organisation that is acting as go-between and is helping out. We have not given up on the Dapchi girl,” Buhari said.
At a joint press conference on Monday, Buhari said his meeting with Trump yielded positive results in areas of the economy, security and anti-corruption.
Buhari lauded the shared history of close and cordial relations between the two countries , saying it encompasses political, economic, military, social and cultural cooperation.
“Our two countries maintain a strategic partnership for peace and security, conflict resolution as well as the global fight against terrorism.
“We also share common features as secular federal states, practising a similar democratic model of governance and committed to the universal values of fundamental human rights and freedoms, free enterprise, social justice and the rule of law.
“President Trump and his team and myself and the Nigerian team discussed issues related to security, trade, governance, human rights and humanitarian crises.”
He recognised the strong U.S. support in Nigeria’s fight against terrorism and also appreciated very much the U.S. agreement to sell 12 Super Tucano A-29 war planes and weapons to Nigeria to effectively fight terrorism.
“We expressed gratitude for U. S. support in the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in the North East of Nigeria, as well as humanitarian assistance to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), through agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other international partners.
“The USA has been to date the biggest contributor to the humanitarian response and last year gave approximately 500 million U.S. Dollars in cash and in-kind contributions through the United Nations and other inter-governmental organisations.’’
On violent attacks by herdsmen, Buhari said the government was taking necessary steps to promote the peaceful co-existence of herdsmen and farmers, by focusing on boosting security and enforcing legislation that will guarantee herders and farmers access to land.
On economy, he said Nigeria very much welcomed increased US investment in the Nigerian economy, especially in the non-oil sector.
“Nigeria’s trade volume with the United States stood at 6.07 billion dollars, according to 2016 statistics and comprised 4.176 billion dollars worth of Nigerian exports to the U.S. and 1.894 billion dollars U.S. exports to Nigeria. We urged greater effort to increase these figures substantially.”
He thanked the U.S. government for the cooperation Nigeria had received in its effort to recover stolen funds.
“Our two governments have put the machinery in place for their respective Attorneys-General to collaborate in ensuring the return to Nigeria of over 500 million dollars of looted funds siphoned away in banks around the world.
“In this connection, we congratulated the US government on launching a Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative which was spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering.
“We hope that we could continue to count on U.S. support in this area,” he said.
Earlier, Trump had said he had met Buhari before and they had a great relationship.
“We have had very serious problems with Christians who are being murdered in Nigeria, we are going to be working on that problem very, very hard because we cannot allow that to happen,” Trump said.
The U.S. leader said his country had very much decimated ISIS over the last 12 months.
“But Boko Haram has been terrible. How did you do with the young women that have been kidnapped? It’s a terrible problem,” Trump had said.