We’ll deal with Niger Delta militants like Boko Haram -Buhari insists

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated his vow that his administration will deal with Niger Delta militants like it has done to Boko Haram terrorists, unless they agree to negotiate.

He made the remark at a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, on the sidelines of the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), in Nairobi, Kenya, at the weekend.

He had previously given the same warning at a meeting with members of the Nigerian community resident in China, during his tour of the country in April.

The president assured existing and prospective foreign investors that their investments in Nigeria would be fully secured and protected.

Speaking on several steps taken by his administration to secure the country and ease doing business in Nigeria, he told the Japanese leader that with the defeat of the Boko Haram terrorists by the military, the attention of the administration was now focused on stopping the destruction of the country’s economic assets by militants in the Niger Delta region.

He said the militants must dialogue with the Federal Government or be dealt with in the same way like the Boko Haram.

According o him, “we are talking to some of their leaders. We will deal with them as we dealt with Boko Haram, if they refuse to talk to us.

“As a government, we know our responsibility, which is to secure the environment. It is clear to us that lenders won’t fund projects in insecure environments.

“We realise that we have to secure the country before we can efficiently manage it.”

President Buhari told the Japanese Prime Minister that security in the Gulf of Guinea, which was greatly affected by piracy and robbery at sea, was a priority for the Nigerian government.

‘‘We have provided funds to our Navy to buy new platforms, train and effectively organise the personnel to protect the area. We are looking forward to support from developed nations for satellite surveillance covering the Gulf,’’ he added.

Recalling his audience with G7 leaders in Germany, which was attended by the Prime Minister, President Buhari thanked Japan for responding positively to the requests by Nigeria for the rehabilitation of victims of Boko Haram and rebuilding of infrastructure in the North-Eastern part of the country.

The president, however, said there was still more to do on education, health and other infrastructure to ensure quick and voluntary return of displaced persons to their native communities.

On the United Nations (UN) Security Council reform, Buhari agreed to work with Japan on the reforms, stressing that the case for a permanent seat for Africa on the council was a moral one.

He equally expressed Nigeria’s support for Japan in their bid for a UN resolution on the problems in East China and South China, as well as the “uncontrolled nuclear tests by North Korea.”

Buhari added: ‘‘The UN system is sufficient for the resolutions of all disputes and no nation should be above the UN.

“This has to be made absolutely clear and I assure the Prime Minister that I will meet as many leaders as possible at the forthcoming UN General Assembly concerning the issues.”

Responding, Prime Minister Abe congratulated President Buhari “for courageously tackling Boko Haram terrorism.”

He said Nigeria and Japan must work together to improve the investment climate in view of the many Japanese companies wishing to invest in Nigeria.

The Japanese leader reaffirmed Japan’s commitment to rapid development in Nigeria, through quality delivery of ongoing projects in the country, including Jebba hydro power scheme and the Lagos railway project.

Meanwhile, President Buhari has requested for increased participation of the Japanese government and the private sector in the Nigerian economy.

He said the Federal Government would sustain concrete measures to diversify the economy by devoting more resources to agriculture in the 2017 budget.

According to him, ‘‘this year, in Nigeria, we started an aggressive farming programme that entails organising farmers into cooperatives in the second and third tiers of government.

‘‘We intend to put more resources in our 2017 budget,  especially in the procurement of machinery for land clearing, fertilisers, pesticides and training of less educated farmers as farm extension instructors.

“We have already registered some success this year in a number of states; we identified some 13 states that will be self-sufficient in rice, wheat and grains before the end of 2018.

“We are very positive that soon, we will be able to export these food products.

“We are also lucky that the farming season in the northern part of the country has been very good and we are expecting a bumper harvest this year,” he said.

On his expectation for TICAD, the president said Japan’s story of rapid economic growth, hardwork and advanced technology should encourage Africans to strive harder and solve its development challenges.

He requested for increased participation of the Japanese government and the private sector in the Nigerian economy.