President Muhammadu Buhari says it was a mistake for Nigeria to have stopped the teaching of history in secondary schools, as “people ought to know how they arrived where they are, if they would move forward”.
Garba Shehu, Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, quoted Buhari as saying this during his meeting on Monday with Theresa May, Prime Minister of Britain.
He was reminiscing on the long history of cordial relations between Nigeria and Britain, which have lasted several years “even when we fought a civil war”.
Buhari appreciated British companies such as Unilever and Cadbury “who have stood with Nigeria through thick and thin”.
“But like Oliver Twist, we ask for more investments. We are encouraging more British companies to come to Nigeria,” Buhari told May.
“We appreciate the support you have given in training and equipping our military, particularly in the war against insurgency, but we want to also continue to work with you on trade and investment.
“I am very pleased with the successes in agriculture. We have cut rice importation by about 90%, made lots of savings of foreign exchange, and generated employment.
“People had rushed to the cities to get oil money, at the expense of farming. But luckily, they are now going back to the farms. Even professionals are going back to the land. We are making steady progress on the road to food security.”
Buhari also pleaded with Britain to support Nigeria’s plea to the United Nations for the Lake Chad Basin, which is fast drying up as a result of climate change, to be recharged with water from the Congo Basin.
According to him, this would ensure that residents of Niger, Cameroun, Chad and Nigeria, no longer continue to flee to Europe, via Libya, as a result of the harsh conditions of living close to the Lake Chad, will stay.
“The Lake Chad is now about 10% of its original size, and it is perhaps one of the reasons our youths dare both the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean, to get to Europe,” Buhari said.
“But if there is inter-basin water transfer, about 40 million people in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad, and other countries stand to benefit. I made the case during the Climate Change Summit in France.
“If Lake Chad is recharged, it will reduce the number of youths coming to Europe to increase social problems. We brought back about 4,000 people from Libya recently. Almost all of them were below 30, and Libya was not their final destination. They were headed to Europe.”
Buhari reassured Theresa May that he was more focused on ensuring economic and security stability in Nigeria than on winning a second term in the 2019 general election.
“We campaigned on three major issues, to secure the country, revive the economy and fight corruption. We have elections next year, politicians are already preoccupied with the polls, but I am bothered more about security and the economy,” he said.