President Muhammadu Buhari opened his meeting with the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, today in London with a strong appeal for improved investments from the UK in the nation’s economy.
The President, who said that he was very concerned about improving the security and economic situation of the country, restated his government’s commitment to the three-pronged agenda of security, fight against corruption and revival of the nation’s economy.
He said: “We campaigned on three major issues, to secure the country, revive the economy and fight corruption… We have elections next year, politicians are already preoccupied with the polls, but I am bothered more about security and the economy”.
While recalling that Nigeria and Britain have a long history of cooperation at many levels, President Buhari pointed out that “people ought to know how they arrived where they are, if they would move forward. It was a mistake for us to have stopped the teaching of history as a subject in schools, but we are returning it to the curriculum now.”
He commended British companies like Unilever, Cadbury, and many others who have stood with Nigeria through thick and thin, including the trying era of the Nigerian civil war and never divested from the nation’s economy.
“But like Oliver Twist, we ask for more investments. We are encouraging more British companies to come to Nigeria. We appreciate the support you have given in training and equipping our military, particularly in the war against insurgency, but we want to also continue to work with you on trade and investment”, President Buhari said.
On achievements recorded by his administration in the agricultural sector, the President told the Prime Minister that recent initiatives undertaken by the government in the sector had helped in addressing the challenge of food insecurity.
He clarified: “I am very pleased with the successes in agriculture. We have cut rice importation by about 90%, made lots of savings of foreign exchange, and generated employment. People had rushed to the cities to get oil money, at the expense of farming. But luckily, they are now going back to the farms. Even professionals are going back to the land. We are making steady progress on the road to food security.”
On climate change and environmental issues, the President reiterated the the necessity of having inter-basin water transfering from Congo Basin to Lake Chad as a strategic step toward mitigating the negative impact of drought on the African continent and by extension, globally.
The President said: “The Lake Chad is now about 10% of its original size, and it is perhaps one of the reasons our youths dare both the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean, to get to Europe. But if there is inter-basin water transfer, about 40 million people in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad, and other countries stand to benefit.
“I made the case during the Climate Change Summit in France. If Lake Chad is recharged, it will reduce the number of youths coming to Europe to increase social problems. We brought back about 4,000 people from Libya recently. Almost all of them were below 30, and Libya was not their final destination. They were headed to Europe”, he added.
In her remarks, Prime Minister May promised that Britain would continue to work with Nigeria in the areas of training and equipping the military with a view to tackling the menace of Boko Haram insurgency and other security threats to the nation’s political stability.
The British leader noted that the President Buhari-led administration had “been making good progress on the economy,” and urged it to maintain the focus, despite approaching elections, and increase in political activities.
Prime Minister May also commended the Nigerian leader for efforts being made to improve education sector and address the lingering challenge of climate change.
She said: “Good grounding in education is good. It is important to equip young people for today’s world. It is also a good bastion and defence against modern slavery.
“The issue of the environment and climate change is very important, because of its impact on many countries in the Commonwealth. Stability at home is important to curb illegal migration”, Prime Minister May added.
She also commended President Buhari for the much his government has been doing on improving trade and business for Nigeria, adding however that it has become imperative to boost intra-commonwealth trade.