President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday assured the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, that he was all out to ensure free, fair and credible elections in 2019
He said he was pleased that his party, the ruling All Progressives Congress, was doing well.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement made available to journalists shortly after Buhari held a closed-door meeting with May at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The President welcomed the United Kingdom’s support aimed at strengthening democratic institutions in Nigeria.
He said, “I assure you that I’m all out for free, fair and credible elections. I’m very pleased that my party is doing very well. The High Commissioner will brief you more. The recent successes in polls in Katsina, Bauchi, and Kogi have boosted our morale greatly.
“Nigeria has accepted multi-party democracy and that is putting politicians on their toes, forcing them to work harder.”
Buhari also applauded the British support for his administration’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign.
He said the success of the campaign was important to ordinary Nigerians.
“We had great opportunities and resources between 1999 and 2014, due to high oil prices. But when we came in 2015, oil prices plunged to as low as $37 per barrel.
“What we have been doing since 2015 is to focus on infrastructure development, despite low earnings. Work is ongoing on roads, rail, power, and many others,” he said.
On Brexit, Buhari noted that it provided an opportunity to strengthen the historic ties between Nigeria and the UK.
“We are nervously watching the development about Brexit because we know that the relationship had been on for a long time. I assure you that I am prepared to strengthen the relationship between our two countries,” he promised.
The President also thanked the UK Government for the support on security and the fight against insurgency in the north-eastern part of Nigeria, as well as the improved trade relations between both countries.
“I am very grateful to the British government under your leadership for the help in security, particularly your training team that is in our institution in Kaduna,’’ he said.
Earlier, in his remarks before the bilateral meeting, the Nigerian leader underscored the need for UK support on reviving of Lake Chad, which is a means of livelihood for millions of people.
The President told the visiting Prime Minister that Europe and China were already conducting an in-depth study on recharging the Lake through inter-basin transfer from the Central African Republic.
In her remarks, May, who welcomed the assurance by the Nigerian government on credible elections in 2019, said she was pleased to be in Abuja to continue the “excellent discussions” she started with Buhari in London in April, this year, particularly on security, trade, asset recovery and the fight against corruption.
“Security and defence cooperation are very important steps to address Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa,” she said.
On asset recovery, the Prime Minister told Buhari that “we do not want to hold anything that belongs to Nigerian people, but we follow the judicial process, which can be slow.”
The Prime Minister appealed to President Buhari to use his position as ECOWAS chairman to keep the issue of human trafficking on the front burner in the sub-region.