President Muhammadu Buhari has said that Nigeria will welcome intermediaries from the United Nations to assist in negotiating with Boko Haram for a swap deal involving over 200 abducted Chibok schoolgirls.
The president was quoted as saying this during a bilateral meeting with the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, during a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the 71st UN General Assembly in New York.
The presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement Thursday, said the call on the UN to step in was a demonstration of the Buhari administration’s commitment to swapping the abducted schoolgirls from Chibok with Boko Haram fighters in custody.
President Buhari said the Nigerian government was willing to bend over backwards in order to get the Chibok girls released from captivity.
“The challenge is in getting credible and bona fide leadership of Boko Haram to discuss with”, the president said, adding that, “The split in the insurgent group is not helping matters. Government had reached out, ready to negotiate, but it became difficult to identify credible leaders. We will welcome intermediaries such as UN outfits, to step in”.
Buhari maintained his position that the teachings of Boko Haram were far from being Islamic, as neither Islam nor any other religion advocates hurting the weak and innocent.
“The fact that they kill men, women, children, and other people wantonly, and shout ‘Allahu Akbar (God is great)’ shows that they do not know that Allah at all. If they did, they would not shed innocent blood”, the president said.
He also thanked Mr. Ki-moon for the moral and material support given to Nigeria which, he acknowledged, had enabled the country surmount many of the challenges facing her.
Responding, the UN Scribe congratulated Buhari on the anti-corruption war.
“You are highly respected by world leaders, including myself. Your persona has given your country a positive image”, Ki-Moon declared.
He further declared that the UN recognised President Buhari’s government’s achievements against the Boko Haram insurgents.
He, however, urged that human rights be upheld always in order to prevent a repeat of the scenario being witnessed in Syria.
While thanking President Buhari for his commitment to issues on climate change, Mr. Ki-moon called on the Nigerian government to “own the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, for the good of its citizens.