Buhari renews pledge on release of Chibok girls

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UNTIL the remaining Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped in April 2014 by Boko Haram terrorists and others still being held by insurgents are released, our administration will not rest, President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday.

He renewed his commitment to the safe release of the captives on Monday in Katowice, Poland. It was at a bilateral meeting between him and Swiss President Alain Berset on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP24.

A statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said that the President had a busy day at the International Conference Centre in Katowice, where he made a remark at the opening of the 12-day meeting of COP24.

Several world leaders are in Poland to attend the conference.

The President thanked the Swiss Confederation for its efforts and important role as intermediaries to secure the release of some of the schoolgirls and assured his Swiss counterpart that the issue of the remaining kidnapped girls and other abducted persons would remain a “key priority” for his government.

President Buhari and Besert discussed joint strategies to ensure the safe return of the girls, building on the past success of securing the release of some of the girls and other abducted persons in the Northeast.

He also welcomed the Swiss President’s commitment to continue providing humanitarian assistance to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria.

“We will continue to make the safe release of the remaining Chibok girls a priority and will welcome any kind of support from any quarters to make this happen,” the President said.

In separate bilateral meetings with the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda and the Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, President Buhari commended the country for a successful outing at the opening of the COP24 meeting in Katowice.

The President restated that “Nigeria is totally committed to global efforts to mitigate and adapt to effects of climate change.”

At the meeting with Morawiecki, the President lauded the plan by the Polish government to open a Trade Office in Lagos soon, promising that investors who look to Nigeria can be “guaranteed” of safe returns on their investments.

“We have a vibrant and active young population and our government is doing so much on the Nigerian economy, including diversifying to non-oil sectors.

‘’We welcome increased cooperation with Poland and will encourage investments in other sectors of the economy like solid minerals and information technology.

Morawiecki told President Buhari that traditionally, 96 per cent of oil imports to Poland come from Saudi Arabia and Russia, adding “but now we are looking at importing oil from Nigeria.”

The prime minister noted that as the fastest-growing economy in the European Union, Poland had identified Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa, as three top investment destinations in Africa.

He said: “We want the hub of our investment destination to be in Nigeria,” as he welcomed President Buhari’s pledge to immediately put in place a framework to encourage more Polish investments in Nigeria.

The President’s meeting with his Austrian counterpart, Alexander Van der Bellen, focused on the challenges of Lake Chad and what was required to recharge it.

Noting that the Lake was facing two challenges of technology and financing, President Buhari told the Austrian leader that enormous financial resources and technology were required to transfer water to Lake Chad from the Congo Basin.

Van der Bellen, who indicated his country’s interest to cooperate with Nigeria on recharging the Lake Chad, talked about climate change challenges in Austria, including drought, glaciers melting, among others.

President Buhari also met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and both leaders followed up on their past discussions, during their last meeting in The Hague, Netherlands, in July, which centred on trade, investments and partnerships in agriculture.

The President welcomed the proposal by the Dutch Prime Minister to visit Abuja soon and promised that the Nigerian government would continue to provide an enabling environment for existing and prospective Dutch investors.

On the sidelines of the COP24, President Buhari also met with Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.

The Prime Minister of the Northern European country sought Nigeria’s support on its bid for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council for 2020-2021.

They discussed bilateral cooperation and climate change mitigation.

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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