Buhari Reiterates Commitment to Release of Chibok Girls
• Pays tributes to holocaust victims
Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has reaffirmed the pledge that his government will not rest until the remaining Chibok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists since April 2014 are safely reunited with their families.
The president was also at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, in Owicim, Poland where he paid tribute to Holocaust victims.
According to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, the president renewed the commitment on Chibok girls in Katowice, Poland at a bilateral meeting with Swiss President Alain Berset on the margins of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24).
The president had spent the whole day at the International Conference Centre, Katowice, where he delivered his national address at the opening of the 12-day meeting of COP24, met with several world leaders and visited the impressive Nigerian pavilion at the climate summit.
During his meeting with the Swiss president, the Nigerian leader thanked the Swiss Confederation for its efforts and important role as intermediaries to secure the release of some Chibok girls and assured him that the issue of the remaining kidnapped girls and other abducted persons will remain a ”key priority” for the Nigerian government.
Buhari and his Swiss counterpart discussed joint strategies to ensure the safe return of the girls, building on the past successes of securing the release of some of the Chibok girls and other abducted persons in the North-eastern part of Nigeria.
The president also welcomed the Swiss president’s commitment to continue providing humanitarian assistance to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria and to ensure the safe release of the abducted schoolgirls.
”We will continue to make the safe release of the remaining Chibok girls a priority and will welcome any kind of support from any quarters to make this happen,” the president said.
In separate bilateral meetings with the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, and the Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, Buhari commended the country for a successful outing at the opening of the COP24 meeting in Katowice. The president told his Polish counterpart that Nigeria was facing serious climate change challenges, particularly the receding Lake Chad, which is a source of livelihood to some 40 million people living in the region.
”Nigeria is totally committed to global efforts to mitigate and adapt to effects of climate change,” the president told the Polish leader, whose country is the president of COP24.
Meanwhile, the president’s bilateral meeting with his Austrian counterpart, Alexander Van der Bellen, focused on the challenges of Lake Chad and what was required to recharge it.
Noting that the Lake faced the two challenges of technology and financing, the president told the Austrian leader that enormous financial resources and technology were required to transfer water to Lake Chad from the Congo Basin.
Van der Bellen, who indicated his country’s interest to cooperate with Nigeria on recharging the Lake Chad, talked about climate change challenges in Austria, including drought, glaciers melting, among others.
Buhari also met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and both leaders followed up on their past discussions, during their last meeting in The Hague, Netherlands, in July, which centred on trade, investments and partnerships in agriculture.
The president welcomed the proposal by the Dutch prime minister to visit Abuja soon and promised that the Nigerian government will continue to provide conducive business environment for existing and prospective Dutch investors.
On the sidelines of COP24, Buhari also met with the Prime Minister of Estonia, Jüri Ratas.
The prime minister of the Northern European country sought Nigeria’s support on its bid for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council for 2020-2021. The two leaders also discussed bilateral cooperation and climate change mitigation.
Buhari Pays Tributes to Victims of Holocaust
Still in Poland, President Buhari was at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, in Owicim, where he paid tribute to Holocaust victims.
Shehu, who made this known in a separate statement, said after an hour and 10 minutes guided tour of the Museum, devoted to the memory of the victims who died at both camps during World War II, President Buhari penned a hand-written tribute in the visitor’s book, quoting Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar’s famous statement: “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”
He said the president also laid a wreath at Block 11 of the museum, known as the ‘‘Death block.’’ Here, according to an epitaph in the Block: ”Male and female prisoners from all parts of the camp complex were held in this building…following brutal interrogations, they were in most cases sentenced to death by shooting.”
He said later and shortly before leaving the museum, which includes the Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau, President Buhari, fielding questions from State House Correspondents traveling with him, described those fanning embers of discord in Nigeria as ”illiterates and ignorant.”