This week at the presidential villa was a beehive of activities. On Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari continued his tour of trouble states to Benue where herdsmen were said to have killed more than 100 persons this year alone.
But the president had to cut short his visit to Benue when it came to his knowledge that the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was no longer spending the night in Nigeria. Buhari who was supposed to visit some IDP camps in Benue State dashed back to Abuja at about 5:00pm.
The president met for over 30 minutes with Tillerson before the US secretary of State came to the press gallery to address State House correspondents alongside the minister of Foreign Affairs, Goffery Onyeama.
Just as one was still digesting the content of what the U.S. said was the crux of his visit, a shocker came from that country barely 24 hours after Tillerson’s visit to Nigeria. Cerebral U.S. president, Donald Trump, sacked Tillerson, an action which was announced via his Twitter handle.
That same Tuesday, President Buhari launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan Focus Labs, which is expected to drive investments in the country. Later that same day, President Buhari met with the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria where he restated the commitment of his administration to fight rice smugglers at the borders and in the markets.
The president also disclosed that he will be inaugurating a National Food Security Council that he will personally chair. He said the council wiould include governors, ministers, security agencies and key stakeholders across the entire agricultural segments of farming, fisheries and livestock management.
“Our experiences today of clashes between farmers and herdsmen or the challenges fishermen face due to global warming and other environmental factors clearly demonstrates that our quest for food security has a direct link to our national security objectives. The Food Security Council will ensure alignment and bring efficiencies”, he noted.
On Wednesday, the president proceeded to Yobe where Boko Haram insurgents abducted 110 girls from the Government Science and Technical College, Dapchi.
Buhari, it could be recalled, had told Tillerson that Nigeria prefered to have the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from Chibok and Dapchi back alive and that was why it chose negotiation, rather than military option.
He also added that Nigeria was working in concert with international organizations 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,” he stated.
Political observers have criticised the president for considering negotiation as an option for the release of the girls. They contend that no serious country openly admits negotiating with terrorists. On the other side of the divide, some have called the president to use any means necessary to secure the release of the girls.
On Wednesday in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, the president assured Nigerians and the international community that the missing 110 Dapchi girls will be rescued or released. Citing the release of more than 100 Chibok girls, University of Maiduguri lecturers, some women police personnel, students and an NYSC member, the President declared that he was absolutely certain that the girls will come home alive
“I have no doubt that the Dapchi girls will be rescued or released. I want to reassure parents, Nigerians and the international community that we will do all that is within our power to make sure that the girls are brought back safely to their families”, Buhari said.
From the state capital, Buhari proceeded to Dapchi where he met with the parents of the abducted girls and some of the students of the school.
On Thursday, the president went to Niger State to commission a sugar plant. That same evening, he met with the principal officers of the National Assembly led by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
That same day, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s daughter had a traditional wedding engagement at the Banquet hall of the presidential Villa. Journalists were barred from covering the event, as we were told it was private event not meant for coverage.
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