President Muhammadu Buhari has put up an explanation for the comment recently attributed to the President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim.
Kim, speaking at a press conference in Washington DC, United States, had revealed that President Buhari requested that the World Bank’s interventions in Nigeria be concentrated in the North.
But in a serries of tweets this afternoon, Buhari said his interest was northeast Nigeria which had been devastated by Boko Haram insurgency.
The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement issued this afternoon, said the World Bank’s President’s statement was twisted by “ignorant and mischievous people”.
“Those who specialize 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”
In his comments, Kim said Buhari asked that focus be shifted to “northern region of Nigeria”.
He said: “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. Now, it has been very difficult. The work there has been very difficult”
But in addressing the comment that has enraged many in southern Nigeria, the President’s Twitter handle offered explanations:
“Northeast Nigeria has always been a priority for President @MBuhari, right from when he campaigned to be President.
“From the start of the Administration,Pres @MBuhari has consistently highlighted the need for International support to secure and rebuild the N/East
“The Northeast has featured prominently in all of the President’s engagements with the International Community”
“It featured in his first meeting with the @WorldBank, in July 2015, at which the Bank pledged financial support”
Below is part of the press release issued by the World Bank after the meeting refered to above:
“WASHINGTON, July 22, 2015 – On Tuesday, July 21, 2015 the World Bank Group President Jim Kim held a meeting with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at Blair House in Washington, D.C. In the meeting it was indicated that Nigeria has up to USD $2.1 billion of uncommitted resources from the International Development Association(IDA) as well as other support from IBRD, for addressing the development challenges of Nigeria, including in the North East and the North, in particular”.
Accordimg to Femi Adesina, “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”.
His statement reads further: “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. 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.
“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. 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”.