In a week of controversy stoked by alleged extremist religious views of a serving minister, President Muhammadu Buhari also voiced his “immense shock’’ over the tragic death of a veteran leader in a neighbouring country.
Buhari on April 21, expressed sadness over “the sudden and tragic death of President Idriss Deby of Chad, who died in battle, fighting rebels.”
Deby, 68, was a long-time ruler of Chad, a country sharing border with Nigeria.
Reacting to the development in a statement by his spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, Buhari said: “I’m deeply shocked and devastated by the sudden death of Idriss Deby in battle front, defending the sovereignty of his country.
“The late Deby had played a very active role in our regional joint collaboration in the military campaign against Boko Haram terrorists,” the president stated, referring to the joint campaign by Nigeria and Chad to fight off the terror group in Nigeria’s northern flank.
Boko Haram embarked on a bloody campaign in West Africa since 2009 but Nigeria, Niger, Cameroun, Chad and Benin Republic have joined forces to crush the group.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the President of Niger Republic, Mr Mohamed Bazoum, who was on a two-day official visit to Nigeria, was received by Buhari at the forecourt of the Presidential Villa on April 19.
Among those who joined the president to welcome Bazoum were the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammed Bello and some presidential aides.
The governors of Sokoto, Borno, Yobe, Kebbi and Zamfara States were also at the villa to welcome Bazoum, who was on April 2, sworn in for a five-year term.
Bazoum’s inauguration marked the first successful transfer of power from an out-going president to an elected president in the West African country since independence in 1960.
Buhari and his guest later went into a closed-door meeting.
The Nigerian leader had earlier received briefing from Vice-President Osinbajo after Buhari returned to Abuja from London after a 16-day medical check-up.
Also on April 19, the Minister of Police Affairs, Mr Maigari Dingyadi, presented the new acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Usman Baba, to the president.
Speaking with State House correspondents at the end of the meeting with the president, Baba said he was in the villa for formal introduction to the president.
“My minister brought me to the president for an introduction and he has introduced me to him.
“I thanked the president for giving me an opportunity to serve Nigeria in acting capacity as Inspector-General of Police.
“I have promised to do my best to change the narrative as far as internal security is concerned in the country. I’m coming back for a full briefing.’’
On April 20, Buhari joined Muslim faithful in the State House Mosque for Ramadan Tafsir, meaning explanation of the Qur’an.
The president, who was accompanied by his aides, was attending the Tafsir for the first time in two years, following the closure of the mosque during Ramadan last year, due to restrictions in public gatherings because of COVID-19.
On April 21, Buhari presided over the 42nd virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa.
The council approved augmentation of N8.39 billion for the completion of the Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-Makera Road.
Those in attendance at the meeting were Osinbajo, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha and the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
On April 22, Buhari met behind closed-doors with some governors from northwest and north central states that are contending with the menace of banditry, kidnapping and other violent crimes.
The governors included Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, Bello Matawale of Zamfara, Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna, Simon Lalong of Plateau, Sani Bello of Niger and Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State.
Also on April 22, the Presidency dismissed the current controversy on the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, saying that “the Buhari administration stands behind all Nigerians, including the minister against unfair treatment’’.
Reacting to calls in some quarters for Pantami to resign over his utterances, dating back to over two decades, the presidential spokesman in a statement, the calls for Pantami to quit as unfortunate.
“It is unfair and unfortunate for anyone to seek the downfall of a hard working public servant, due to statements he made in the past even after such statements had been rejected by the affected person.
Also on April 22, Osinbajo presided over a meeting of the National Economic Council.
The meeting received presentations from the minister of finance, the Central Bank Governor and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum.
At the end of the meeting, the council affirmed that there was no printing of N60 billion or any amount whatsoever to shore up allocation for the month of March as insinuated recently in the media.
Also on March 22, Buhari condemned the latest killing of people by bandits in Zamfara, warning that “such wanton disregard for life will be brought to an end sooner than later.
“This insane and persistent violence against innocent people must stop.
“These criminals should stop pushing their luck too far by believing that the government lacks capacity to crush them,” Buhari said in a statement.
On April 23, the president approved the restoration of leases on OMLs 123, 124, 126 and 137 to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. The leases were in production sharing contract with Addax Petroleum.
Addax Petroleum is wholly owned by the Government of the People’s Republic of China. The leases, belonging to the Federal Government were revoked on March 30, 2021.
On April 23, Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo visited the Presidential Villa, where he updated Buhari on the socio-economic and security situation in Imo.
Uzodinma, who spoke to State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with the president, alleged that some politicians were responsible for the rising cases of banditry in parts of the country.
He also proclaimed that some politicians were bent on bringing down constituted authorities for selfish reasons.
Buhari also on April 23, participated in a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate, where he assured the international community of Nigeria’s readiness to mobilise relevant stakeholders towards action on climate to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
He lauded U.S. President Joe Biden for his renewed interest in the Paris Agreement.
On April 24, Buhari condemned the killing of three of the students kidnapped at Greenfield University in Kaduna State.
He described the students as bright youngsters who were cut down by evil people in their prime.
“My thoughts are with their families in this time of grief. May their souls rest in peace.”
The president also extended his condolences to the relatives, associates of the murdered students and the Kaduna State Government.