By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in Abuja assured UK Prime Minister Theresa May of his commitment to conducting free, fair and credible elections in 2019.
Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, in a statement, said Buhari gave the assurance during a bilateral meeting with the visiting Prime Minister at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari welcomed UK’s support toward strengthening democratic institutions in the country.
‘‘I assure you that I’m all out for free, fair and credible elections.
“I’m very pleased that my party is doing very well. The High Commissioner will brief you more.
“The recent successes in polls in Katsina, Bauchi, and Kogi have boosted our morale greatly.
‘‘Nigeria has accepted multiparty democracy and that is putting politicians on their toes, forcing them to work harder.’’
On the anti-corruption campaign, the President applauded Britain’s support to the country, noting that the success of the fight was very important to ordinary people in the country.
He recalled that Nigeria had great opportunities and resources between 1999 and 2014 due to high oil prices.
“But when we came in 2015, oil prices plunged to as low as 37 dollars per barrel.
‘‘What we have been doing since 2015 is to focus on infrastructure development, despite low earnings. Work is ongoing on roads, rail, power, and many others,’’ he said.
On Brexit, Buhari noted that it provided an opportunity to strengthen the historic ties between Nigeria and the UK.
‘‘We are nervously watching the development about Brexit because we know that the relationship had been on for a long time.
“I assure you that I am prepared to strengthen the relationship between our two countries.’’
The president also thanked the UK government for the support on security and the fight against insurgency in the North-East, as well as the improved trade relations between both countries.
‘‘I am very grateful to the British government under you leadership for the help in security, particularly your training team that is in our institution in Kaduna,’’ he said.
Earlier in a remark before the bilateral meeting, Buhari underscored the need for UK support toward reviving Lake Chad, which is a source of livelihood for millions of people.
The president told the visiting prime minister that Europe and China were already conducting an indepth study on recharging the Lake through inter-basin transfer from the Central African Republic.
In her remarks, Prime Minister May said she was pleased to be in Abuja to continue the ‘‘excellent discussions’’ she started with Buhari in London in April, particularly on security, trade, asset recovery and the fight against corruption.
May welcomed the assurance by the Nigerian government on credible elections in 2019.
‘‘Security and defence cooperation are very important steps to address Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa,’’ May said.
On asset recovery, the prime minister said:‘‘We do not want to hold anything that belongs to Nigerian people; but we follow the judicial process which can be slow.’’
She appealed to Buhari to use his position as ECOWAS Chair to keep the issue of human trafficking on the front burner in the sub-region.
Buhari and May witnessed the signing of two agreements an Security and Defence Partnership and Economic Development Forum Agreement.(NAN)