·Tillerson assures of US’ support
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that Nigeria prefers to have the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists from Chibok in Borno State and Dapchi in Yobe State back alive, and that was why it has chosen negotiation, rather than military option.
Receiving the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, in audience at State House, Abuja, on Monday, Buhari added that Nigeria was working in concert with international organisations and negotiators, to ensure that the girls were released unharmed by their captors.
“We are trying to be careful. It is better to get our daughters back alive,” the President said.
He thanked the US for assistance rendered in the fight against insurgency, noting that Nigerian forces are good, “but need assistance in the areas of training and equipment.”
Buhari also promised that his administration would continue to do its best to secure the country, adding that he would be in Yobe State, from where Dapchi schoolgirls were abducted, later this week “as part of my condolence and sympathy visits to areas where we have had unfortunate events.”
The President further pledged free and fair polls in 2019, recalling that the then US Secretary of State, John Kerry, had visited before the 2015 polls, “and he told the party in government then, and those of us in opposition, to behave ourselves, and we did.”
The US Secretary of State commended President Buhari on his strides in the anti-corruption war, to which the Nigerian leader responded that monies recovered were being invested on development of infrastructure.
Tillerson said that Nigeria remains a very important country to the US, assuring that: “You have our support in your challenges. We will also support opportunities to expand the economy, commercial investments, and peaceful polls in 2019.”
Tillerson’s visit to Nigeria was his first trip to Africa as the most senior US diplomat and since his arrival in the continent last Wednesday, he has visited Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya.
He is expected to stay for several hours before heading for home in the early evening.
He had initially been scheduled to stay overnight, hold further meetings on Tuesday with the US embassy staff and then fly back to Washington.
But the African tour has coincided with the sudden announcement of a possible summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump over the nuclear standoff in the Korean peninsula.
Tillerson, while in East Africa, canceled scheduled events on Saturday on the grounds of ill-health.