- Request made in presence of three southern governors, says Gov. Shettima
By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The presidency yesterday deplored scathing criticisms which accompanied the disclosure by World Bank President, Jim Kim, that President Muhammadu Buhari asked the bank to concentrate its developmental agenda only on Northern Nigeria.
A statement by the president’s chief spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, said those who twisted the comment of the World Bank’s chief did so for “vile purpose” to create the impression of the president’s search for unfair advantage of the North over the South.
According to Adesina, the president had earlier reached out to G-7 in Germany to solicit its support for North-east devastated by Boko Haram and also requested for similar support from World Bank the same year in view of the region’s peculiar situation.
He said the particular request on behalf of the North-east was borne out of concern for the region in view of acute devastation done to it by insurgents.
He added that the president would address the need of every region without given any advantage to one over the other.
The statement read: “Those who specialise in a deliberate twisting of information have wailed and raged endlessly on the news item credited to the World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim, who disclosed in Washington DC, United States of America, that President Muhammadu Buhari had requested a concentration of the Bank’s intervention efforts in the northern part of Nigeria, particularly in the North-east.
“The ignorant and mischievous people, who twist everything for their vile purposes, are making it seem that it was a calculated attempt to give the North an unfair advantage over other parts of Nigeria.
“The truth of the matter is that President Buhari, right from his first week in office in June, 2015, had reached out to the G-7 in Germany that Nigeria needed help to rebuild the North-east, which had been terribly devastated by insurgency.Â
“He said the country would prefer help in terms of rebuilding of infrastructure, rather than cash donation, which may end up being misappropriated. In concert with governors of the region, a comprehensive list of needed repairs was sent to the G-7 leaders.
Presidency: World Bank President’s Comment about Buhari Twisted by Mischief Makers
“Also, during a trip to Washington in 2015, and many other engagements that followed, President Buhari sought the help of the World Bank in rebuilding the beleaguered North-east, which was then being wrested from the stranglehold of a pernicious insurgency. It was something always done in the open, and which reflected the president’s concern for the region.
“Those ululating over the disclosure by the President of the World Bank should be a bit reflective, and consider the ravages that the North-east has suffered since 2009, when the Boko Haram insurgency started. “Schools, hospitals, homes, entire villages, towns, cities, bridges, and other public utilities have been blown up, laid waste, and lives terminated in excess of 20,000, while widows and orphans littered the landscape. The humanitarian crisis was in monumental proportions.
“President Buhari simply did what a caring leader should do. He took the battle to the insurgents, broke their backs, and then sought for help to rebuild, so that the people could have their lives back.
“Should that then elicit the negative commentary that has trailed the disclosure from the World Bank? Not at all, except from insidious minds.
“President Buhari has a pan-Nigerian mandate, and he will discharge his duties and responsibilities in like manner.Â
“Any part of the country that requires special attention would receive it, irrespective of primordial affinities, which narrow minded people have not been able to live above. This President will always work in the best interest of all parts of the country at all times. Let ethnic warriors sheathe their swords.
Five Governors including three of them representing the South-south, South-east and South-west and the late Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Professor Adefuye were present when President Muhammadu Buhari held a meeting with President of the World Bank in Washington back in July, 2015, during which the President made a special appeal for the World Bank to support in the rebuilding of the north-east geo-political zone which has suffered massive destructions as a result of Boko Haram insurgency, Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima who was also at the meeting saidÂ on FridayÂ night with a call on Nigerians to emphasize issues that united the country rather what divides it.
Shettima spoke with reference to responses following media reports claiming the World Bank President said President Muhammadu Buhari had asked the Bank to focus developmental attention on ‘northern Nigeria’, a situation that many interpreted as favoritism.Â
Clarifying the air while speaking some journalists in MaiduguriÂ on FridayÂ night, Governor Shettima said himself, Governors Owelle Rochas Okorocha of Imo State from the southeast, Adams Oshiomhole from the south-south, Abiola Isiaka Ajimobi from the Southwest and Tanko Almakura from the north-central were all in attendance when President Buhari met with the World Bank during which he made an open request for the world to focus in helping the Federal Government to rebuild the northeast. He noted that it was in furtherance of the request that in 2016, the World Bank in collaboration with the European Union and office of the Vice President, organized a Recovery and Peace Building Assessment Report on the six states affected by the Boko Haram attacks in the northeast following which it was verifiably discovered that the Boko Haram had destroyed public and private infrastructure worth nine billion dollars in the northeast from which destructions in Borno alone accounted for six billion US dollars.Â
Governor Shettima said while it was his duty to speak for the President, he found it necessary to clear the air ‘because it will be unfair for him to keep silent’ while President Buhari is wrongly misunderstood in his attempt to help in rebuilding Borno and other parts of the North-east.Â
“The President and the Federal Government have very competent spokespersons, I don’t speak for the President or the FG, however, the controversy affects my State because the discussions with the world Bank focused on rebuilding the north-east and everyone knows that when the issue of rebuilding the north-east is the subject, Borno naturally comes into perspective because of the 9 billion dollars worth of destructions inflicted by Boko Haram on the north-east, Borno alone suffered destructions worth 6 billion dollars and this figure was the product of President Muhammadu Buhari’s request from the world Bank. It was the World Bank that championed the RPBA (Recovery and Peace Building Assessment Report on the six States of the northeast with the participation of the European Union, and office of the Vice President. The World Bank became involved after President Buhari made a request for the Bank to support the rebuilding of the northeast. The meeting between President Buhari and the World Bank in Washington DC which took place in July, 2015, few weeks after the President’s swearing-in, was attended by, then Governor Adams Oshiomhole from the South-south, Governors Rochas Okorocha of Imo from the southeast, Abiola Isiaka Ajimobi from the South-west, Tanko Al-Makura from the North-central, myself from the northeast, the Late Prof.Adefuye and the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bulus Lolo. The request was made by the President in the open and everyone thought it was the right thing.