Buhari brags: “Border closure not meant to punish our neighbors”, even as 100 million Nigerians live in squalor

President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday tried to paint a false image of Nigeria in London, that of a country full of wealth and abundance, bragging that the partial closure of Nigeria’s borders was not meant “to punish her neighbors”, but to strengthen the country’s security and economy.

In using the word punish, Mr. Buhari projected a false image of Nigeria being a rich country while neighboring nations were suffering from the border closures.

In reality, only less than one percent of Nigerians enjoy wealth from oil while more than 100 million Nigerians live in squalor and without constant electricity, clean water or even security.

The chaos even worsens in northern Nigeria where Mr. Buhari comes from with illiteracy sky-rocking, shocking poverty so pervasive it is described as heartbreaking in Katsina, Kano, Maiduguri, Kaduna and elsewhere.

And when you add, to the equation, Boko Haram terrorists, (many of them easily recruited because of hunger and mind-boggling poverty), the ISIS associated in West Africa who have displaced millions of Nigerians, turning them into refugees in neighboring countries, the reason for Mr. Buhari to brag seemed to be misplaced.

In addition, trade and crime at Nigerian borders, especially smuggling, is often done by Nigerians themselves, not people coming from Niger, Cameroon, Benin or Chad.

And although Nigeria has some of the best doctors around the world, Mr. Buhari himself only treats himself in London, paying less interest in upgrading local infrastructure.

At a meeting with a select group of the Nigerian Community in the United Kingdom, President Buhari claimed that the period of closure will be used for stock-taking on threats to the nation’s security and economy.

He noted that Nigerian farmers have been celebrating the closure which has drastically reduced smuggling of agricultural produce as well as arms and ammunition.

In a statement sent to TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington DC, the presidency in Nigeria said President Buhari attributed the country’s virtual food security position to the “very good last three rainy seasons;” the federal government’s reduction in the price of fertilizers by 50 per cent and the presidential directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria not to give foreign exchange for food imports thereby saving the nations billions of naira.

The presidency added: “Commending Nigerians in the Diaspora for their huge home remittances – more than $25 billion in 2018 – the President also lauded their individual performances in their various fields of expertise.

“Explaining the achievements of his administration in implementing its three-point campaign agenda by focusing on fixing the economy, providing security and tackling corruption, the President said Nigeria’s “huge, vibrant youth population” have been encouraged to go back to the farms and are “living decent and respectable lifestyles.”

“On security, he said “it is common sense that you can only run the country if it is secured,” adding that the country “has not done badly in the North East.”

“Describing the havoc done by corruption to the image and economy of Nigeria as “terrible,” President Buhari said that his administration has now focused on retrieving stolen fixed assets and returning the proceeds of the sale “to the treasury through the Treasury Single Account (TSA),” so that nobody can return them back to the convicts even after his tenure.

“The President congratulated the current World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Anthony Joshua, who was the cynosure of all eyes during the meeting, on regaining his world championship belt, as well as putting Nigeria “on the world map again like Hogan Bassey.”        

“On his part, Joshua, who later presented his belts to the President, pledged to “stand up for Nigeria anytime you need me.”

“Various speakers lauded the President’s commitment to bequeathing a lasting legacy.

“A renowned research biochemist, Adebayo Olamideji, went down memory lane to recall President Buhari’s nationalistic disposition by his decision to save 1,250 Nigerian students from Oyo State studying abroad from indebtedness and shame when he was military Head of State by agreeing to pay over $6.2 million.

“Comparing him to former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, Oladimeji said the President has started “turning Nigeria around for good,” urging him not to allow detractors to “grind him down.”

“The meeting with the Nigerian Community was coordinated by the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who described President Buhari as “diaspora-friendly,” while the President commended her for efforts in coordinating the affairs of diaspora Nigerians in different parts of the world”.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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