President Muhammadu Buhari has said he is prepared to negotiate the release of Chibok girls if the leadership of Boko Haram was credible and capable of delivering the abducted schoolgirls safe and sound.
This was as he said nobody who is involved in corruption, including his associates in the All Progressives Congress (APC), would escape justice.
The president gave the response to questions from Christian Amanpour of Cable News Network (CNN), in the programme transmitted on Tuesday.
Reminded that he had vowed to tackle corruption and asked if he would crack down on his associates in APC if found corrupt, he answered: There isn’t going to be any party member or any personality that can escape justice.”
On Chibok girls and the willingness of Boko Haram to trade them, he said: “we have to be very careful about the credibility of various Boko Haram leadership coming up and claiming that they can deliver. We have to be very careful indeed. We are taking our time because we want to bring them safe to their parents and to their schools.”
On whether he would definitely negotiate with Boko Haram for the release of the Chibok girls, Buhari said he was not against negotiating with the terrorists as long as they could bring out the girls safely.
“I cannot be against it. I told you our main objective as a government is to secure those girls safe, sound and back to their schools and to rehabilitate them to normal life. So, if we are convinced that the leadership that presented itself can deliver those girls safe and sound, we will be prepared to negotiate whatever they want,” he said.
The president was also asked about the killings that had continued since he assumed office and the fact that Amnesty International observed that Nigeria military had lost credibility and trust of the people because of systematic human rights abuses.
In his response, Buhari pleaded for time for more investigation especially as new initiatives had been put in place in the war on terror.
“I have just mentioned that under Lake Chad Basin Commission, we have agreed to form a Multi-National Joint Task Force. So, whatever happened before that decision was taken, we have to allow further investigation to verify the question of human rights abuse. 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,” he said.
He told Amanpour that based on the promise by the G7 to assist Nigeria, he presented to President Barack Obama areas where the country needed intervention.
According to him, “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.”
On falling oil prices and the need of Nigerians, he said his administration would work hard to stabilise the security situation in the country to enable the people to have a normal life.
“My people firstly, I believe, they want the security in the country to be stabilised so that normal life can continue, both in the southern part of the country where militants are still sabotaging oil installations and kidnapping people for ransom and in the North-East where Boko Haram is still active. This is the military occupation of Nigeria now and is a realistic way of looking at things. Nothing will work until the country is secured,” he said.
When asked how he could do better than his predecessor in office, the president said he should be held accountable to his campaign promises in the remaining part of his tenure.
“I think I can be held to my promises for the next three quarter years ahead of me and I think 12 weeks or so is too early for anybody to pass judgment on my campaign promises,” he said.
Buhari said he would have wanted Obama to visit Nigeria for the first time, but promised that he would extend a formal invitation to the US president to come to Nigeria.