“The World Has Not Forgotten Us” – President Buhari
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has thanked the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on his first visit to his country, saying he is grateful Nigeria has not been forgotten amid the Russia-Ukraine war.
Guterres was welcomed in the country’s capital, Abuja, at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday upon arrival.
According to a statement from the office of Antonio Guterres, he travelled to Nigeria “to express his solidarity with the victims of terrorism”.
Buhari had been concerned that the ongoing war in Russia and Ukraine could distract the world’s attention to the war against terror, but Guterres’ visit showed that “the world has not forgotten us”, according to a statement released Wednesday by Buhari’s special adviser, Femi Adesina.
Nigeria is grappling with the decades-long battle against Islamist groups that have left thousands dead and millions displaced in the country’s Northern region. Boko Haram fighters and its affiliates continue to carry out brutal attacks across swaths of the region in the quest for control.
Sambisa, a vast forest reserve in the north-east Nigeria’s Borno state, has served as a hideout and stronghold for Boko Haram operatives, whose notorious activities have caused the deaths of more than 37,000 people and displaced more than 2 million since 2011, according to data from the Council of Foreign Relations. According to the Borno state government, more than 35,000 insurgents have surrendered to authorities.
Guterres also spoke about his interactions with displaced persons in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.
“Yesterday (Tuesday), I visited Maiduguri where the United Nations is supporting the internally displaced.. I was deeply moved by their stories and struggles. These include the struggles with hunger, with the World Food Programme projecting 4.1 million people i the North-East of Nigeria to be food insecure in the upcoming lean season,” he said. “But despite all they have seen and endured, the people I met remain hopeful and committed to returning to their communities and resuming their lives”, he added. The UN had proposed more funding for Nigeria’s humanitarian response, Guterres said.
Prior to his Nigeria visit, the Secretary-General had been to Senegal and Niger.