By Festus Fifen.
President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration is prepared to continue talks with the Boko Haram insurgent group as long as they agree to involve international agencies like International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Meeting with Mr. Peter Maurer, ICRC President, at State House, Abuja, Monday, the President said, “We’ve seen the result of recent talks, 21 of the Chibok girls are back.” referring to the role played by ICRC in providing immediate humanitarian assistance to the girls, who had spent over 900 days in the hands of their abductors.
In a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Mr. Femi Adesina, President Muhammadu Buhari commended the role played by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the release of the 21 abducted Chibok schoolgirls, urging it to sustain humanitarian interest in Nigeria.
The statement which quoted President Buhari as saying that Nigeria’s biggest problem was perhaps the issue of internally displaced persons (IDPs), noted that there were over 2 million of them made up of over 60% women and children with about 60% of the children not knowing their parents, or where they come from is weighing heavily on government.
Speaking On rebuilding of destroyed infrastructure, President Buhari said it was a priority of government, noting that the G7 had equally indicated support, which Nigeria heartily welcomed.
In his words “We appreciate all your efforts. I am pleased you recognized that our military is cooperating with civil authorities, and respecting humanitarian issues. It is a difficult time for Nigeria. About 27 of our 36 states couldn’t pay salaries when we came last year, and we are still struggling with that. But we will get out of it,” the President said.
On his part Maurer, the ICRC President, said their operation in the Lake Chad region is the second largest in the world, after Syria, adding that there are nutritional, health, water and sanitation issues in the North-east, in addition to rebuilding of infrastructure.
“We are ready to engage and play supportive role in responding to crisis in Nigeria. Security is a lot better than it was a year ago, but humanitarian problems are serious, and don’t disappear so quickly,” Maurer said.
The ICRC President also commended Nigeria for granting increased access to detainees, and exchanges with the Armed Forces. He added: “Detention facilities have improved, there are fewer deaths, and things are better health-wise.”