President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday declined to make a categorical statement on the report that indicts the Nigerian Army over the killing of #ENDSARS protesters at the Leki tollgate, Lagos, saying that the Federal Government will allow the system to exhaust itself.
This is just as the United States government on Thursday insisted that the Nigerian government must be transparent and should insist on providing justice, in handling the #ENDSARS report.
The American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken described the report of the EndSARS probe panel as “democracy in action,” stressing that America equally had its own police brutality, and hoping that necessary reforms would be made.
“We are hoping that there will be transparency and accountability on the part of the government and provide justice to victims of the attack.”
But President Buhari, while speaking at State House, Abuja, at an audience with the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said his government “will wait for pronouncements from state governments which set up panels to probe police brutality in the country.”
He disclosed that “ So many state governments are involved, and have given different terms of reference to the probe panels,” adding that “We at the Federal have to wait for the steps taken by the states, and we have to allow the system to work. We can’t impose ideas on them. Federal Government has to wait for the reaction of the states.”
On the recent removal of Nigeria from the watchlist of countries violating religious freedom, which Blinken said was “based on facts,” President Buhari expressed the country’s appreciation, noting that there was freedom of worship in Nigeria, and no one is discriminated against on the basis of his or her faith.
He said education is a priority in the country, “because when you educate a people, there are certain levels they will not fall below.”
The President equally appreciated the United States of America for allowing Nigeria to procure military hardware to fight terrorism in the country, and for the training given to the Nigerian military.
“It’s helping us to stabilize the situation in the Northeast, and we’ve made a lot of progress since 2015,” he said. “We are doing a lot on security, and the people involved appreciate our efforts.”
On the development of democratic ethos, President Buhari said Nigeria has adopted the American model, “hook, line, and sinker, with its term limits. Those who have attempted to breach it were disappointed, if not disgraced. You are even lucky if you have two terms. Others try hard and don’t get it. The American model has been accepted by Nigerians as the best.”
Nigeria and her neighbours, the President noted, have been living with the impact of climate change for a while, which has seen Lake Chad shrink drastically from its original size, and affected the livelihood of about 30 million people in the Lake Chad Basin countries.
“That is why the youths defy the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean to attempt emigrating to Europe. Inter-basin water transfer is needed to keep the youths at home, and they can resume their lives of farming, fishing, and animal husbandry.”
Mr Blinken, who had held a virtual meeting with the Nigerian President earlier in the year said jocularly that it was now good to see him “mask to mask, hoping that we will soon see face to face.”
He appreciated the contributions of President Buhari to the protection of the climate, particularly his presence and contributions at the recent COP26 climate conference held in Glasgow, Scotland.
Blinken said America and Nigeria have diverse challenges, but a common denominator is security, and hoped for better partnerships, “so that the bad guys won’t get the good guys.”