Updated: March 4, 2021
Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, told U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, on Monday, that he has not rescued the kidnapped schoolgirls because he wants them back alive and not dead.
Why it matters: Boko Haram stormed a school in the northern state of Yobe over two weeks ago and kidnapped at least 110 girls. The administration of Buhari first lied about rescuing them a day or two after they were abducted, and then admitted that the girls were still with Boko Haram fighters. So far, their whereabouts remain unknown.
Mr. Tillerson is on his first official trip to Africa. He had earlier visited Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Chad. He has cut his visit short by a day to return to Washington.
In a statement on Monday, the Presidency in Nigeria quoted President Buhari as telling Tillerson that his administration “prefers to have schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from Chibok and Dapchi back alive, and that is why it has chosen negotiation, rather than military option”.
Mr. Buhari told Tillerson 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,” the President said.
[read_more id="2" more="Read full article" less="Read less"]
He thanked America for assistance rendered in the fight against insurgency, noting that Nigerian forces are good, “but need assistance in the areas of training and equipment.”
According to a statement by Mr. Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, the Nigerian leader 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 pledged free and fair polls in 2019, recalling that the then American 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,” Adesina said.
He said “the visiting Secretary of State commended President Buhari on his strides in the anti-corruption war, to which the Nigerian leader responded that moneys recovered are being invested on development of infrastructure”.
Mr Tillerson said Nigeria was a very important country to the U.S, stressing: “You have our support in your challenges. We will also support opportunities to expand the economy, commercial investments, and peaceful polls in 2019.”