President Muhammadu Buhari came under fire on Friday over a statement yesterday by the World Bank president, Jim Young Kim, who said Buhari asked the bank to focus its development efforts on Northern Nigeria.
“You know, in my very first meeting with President Buhari he said specifically that he would like us to shift our focus to the northern region of Nigeria and we’ve done that,” Kim said at a press conference in Washington DC.
The statement fitted the narrative of Buhari as a sectional leader mostly interested in the affairs of the North as evidenced by the seeming lopsidedness of his appointments.
The presidency has now responded to the allegations, saying Buhari’s request to the Bank was twisted.
“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,” Adesina, the special adviser to the president on media and publicity said in a statement.
According to him:
- Right from his first week in office, Buhari reached out to the G-7 leaders requesting for support to rebuild the devastated North East. “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.”
- Buhari tabled same request before the World Bank during a 2015 trip.
- These requests, according to Adesina, were not done in secret and simply reflected the President’s concern for the region.
The presidency said critics and ethnic warriors need to be a bit reflective and sheathe their swords. “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.”
The statement emphasised that Buhari’s mandate is a “pan-Nigerian” one and “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.”