John Kerry, United States (US) secretary of state, has assured President Muhammadu Buhari of his country’s support because Buhari “inherited a big problem”.
Kerry said this at the state house when he visited Buhari in Abuja on Tuesday.
Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, issued a statement saying that during the meeting with Kerry, Buhari pledged that the anti-corruption crusade in the country would be deepened and institutionalised to outlast the current administration.
“We will insist on the standards we’re establishing. We are laying down administrative and financial instructions in the public service that must be obeyed. Any breach will no longer be acceptable,” the president was quoted as saying.
“We will retrain our staff so that they understand the new orientation. And those who run afoul of these rules will be prosecuted, no matter who is involved. But we will be fair, just and act according to the rule of law.
“Anyone perceived corrupt is innocent till we can prove it. We will work very hard to establish documentation for successful prosecution, and those in positions of trust will sit up.”
Adesina said Buhari appreciated the intervention of the US before the 2015 polls, demanding free and fair elections in Nigeria, and saying: “America did not do it because of what it stands to benefit from us. You did it for the Nigerian people. It tells so much what the U.S stands for in the world.”
On the Boko Haram insurgency, he thanked the US for both hard and soft military help.
“The training and intelligence that we could not muster ourselves, we received. The training has made Boko Haram less of a threat to Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region, while the military hardware has given our troops added confidence,” he said.
“Although militancy in the Niger Delta has impacted negatively on the economy and affected the positive intentions of international and local investors, government is showing restraint not to use real force except when constrained to do so.”
On the economy, he said that the focus of his administration was on the diversification of the economy having learnt our lessons from years of over dependence on oil.
Kerry commended the courage of Buhari in fighting corruption, saying: “We applaud what you are doing. Corruption creates a ready-made playing field for recruiting extremists.
“You inherited a big problem, and we will support you in any way we can. We will work with you very closely. We don’t want to interfere, but will offer opportunities as you require.”
He also pledged to assist in tackling the humanitarian challenges in the north-east, adding that his country would get the UK, France, and others “to augment the support”.
“Nigeria is priority for us,” Kerry was quoted as saying. “We won’t miss the opportunity to work together, because you are making significant progress.”
Culled: The Cable