In this interview with Chritiane Amanpour of the CNN on Tuesday, July 21, President Muhammadu Buhari touches on issues on security, economy and corruption in Nigeria.
Amanpour: Mr President you have asked the United States to help you in the fight against Boko Haram. What exactly did you ask in this regard and answers did President Obama give you?
President Muhammadu Buhari: The United States leading the G7 promised to do what they can to help Nigeria. So we have brought our requirements in terms of training, equipping and intelligence-gathering for Nigeria to be able to fight Boko Haram.
Amanpour: You mention the economy and the fall in oil prices over the last many months. How are you going to deal with that? Because that is really what your people want.
Buhari: My people, firstly I believe, they want the security in the country to be stabilised so that normal life, both in the southern part of the country where militants are still sabotaging oil installations and kidnapping people and demanding ransom and then in the north east of the country where Boko Haram is still active. This is a main preoccupation of Nigerians now and is a realistic way of looking at things. Nothing will work until the country is secured.
Amanpour: But despite your vows to tackle Boko Haram, there are reports in your own country that there have been at least 400 deaths by that group since you became president. Added to that, Amnesty International reports that your military has totally lost the credibility and trust of the people because of the systematic human rights abuses, the killing of some 8000 people. How do you expect your military to be able to go against Boko Haram, to get the trust of the people instead of being a platform for Boko Haram’s grievances?
Buhari: Well I have just mentioned that under Lake Chad Basin Commission, we have agreed to form a multinational joint task force, so whatever happened before that decision was taken, we have to allow further investigations to verify the question of human rights abuse. And with that I am sure you must have known the decision taken by this government – the federal government of Nigeria – in changing the military command.
Amanpour: What about the famous Chibok girls, the 200 or so, abducted so long ago; yet again there has been a suggestion that the Boko Haram captors may seek to trade them for their incarcerated inmates who they want to get out, is your government willing to trade those girls in that regard?
Buhari: We have to be very careful about the credibility of various Boko Haram leaderships coming up and claiming that they can deliver. We have to be very careful indeed and we are taking our time because we want to bring them safe back to their parents and to their schools.
Amanpour: So are you in principle against, or will you consider, negotiating with Boko Haram if you can verify the credibility of those who approach you?
Buhari: I cannot be against it. I told you our main objective as a government is to secure those girls safe and sound back to their schools and rehabilitate them to go back to normal life. So if we are convinced that the leadership that presented itself can deliver those girls safe and sound, we would be prepared to negotiate what they want.
Amanpour: You came to power on a platform that you will do better than the previous president in all regards: security, corruption, economy etcetera. But there have been hundreds of people killed since you become president. How can you do any better?
Buhari: I think I can be held to my promises for the next three and three-quarter years ahead of me. And I think 12 weeks or so are too early for any person to pass judgment on my campaign promises.
Amanpour: What about your campaign promises to root out corruption, if they turn out that some of the guilty ones were members of your own party or your own associates; Will you crack down on them too?
Buhari: I just have to; there isn’t going to be any party member or any personality that can escape justice.
Amanpour: Are you disappointed that President Obama yet again is not coming to Nigeria. The biggest and most economically powerful country in Africa?
Buhari: I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, but how I wished he will change his mind and go to Nigeria.
Amanpour: Did you ask him, did he say he would?
Buhari: Well I asked him and that I will send a formal invitation.
Amanpour: Let me ask you about a previous African leader, the former dictator of Chad, Hissene Habre who is being tried – or at least they are trying to try him – in Senegal; do you support that process of trying an accused African leader in Africa, rather than at the International Criminal Court?
Buhari: Justice is justice, whether it is done in Africa or elsewhere in the world. The important thing is let justice be done. Whatever evidence the prosecution has in Senegal, I think they should proceed to make it available to the world and prosecute him according to international law and human rights.
Amanpour: So you support that process?
Buhari: I support any process that is based on justice.
Amanpour: President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, thank you for joining me from Washington.
Buhari: Thank you very much.
— Jul 22, 2015 @ 13:30 GMT