Abuja – Big Brother Buhari Talks Forthright To President Adama Barrow
In his quest to get Nigeria playing a wider role should the ECOMIG stabilization force exit The Gambia, President Adama Barrow was on Thursday received in Abuja by his Nigerian host Muhammadu Buhari. From The Chronicle’s impeccable sources in Abuja, The Gambian leader pocketed his much anticipated support for the Gambian security sector from the Nigerian Government. But Barrow also heard crude truths from Buhari about the need to respect the people the two presidents lead in their respective countries.
The Gambia Government has since August engaged an intense lobbying on Nigeria to obtain that President Buhari’s nation play a key role after the stabilization troops of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Military intervention in The Gambia (ECOMIG) end their stay and leave The Gambia. It’s in this vein that President Adama Barrow was received on Thursday afternoon by the Nigerian leader at the forecourt of his Abuja presidential villa.
In the discussions with President Buhari, Adama Barrow said “The Gambia still needs Nigeria’s stabilizing force, as things would have been very difficult for us without the invaluable support you gave. The Gambia is gradually recovering from 22 years of dictatorship, security problems, lack of infrastructure, and its parlous economy”, President Barrow told his host.
In response to President Barrow’s call for Nigeria to follow suit after ECOMIG’s exit, President Buhari said “the support of the people must also be appreciated”. According to Buhari, ruling presidents “do themselves a favor when they learn do the right thing”. Clearly Buhari was telling his guest that a president spares himself a lot troubles when he does what is expected from his people and his citizens.
And in no ambiguous terms, President Buhari told Adama Barrow that “The future of our countries lies in our hands. We must respect our people, and appreciate their support. And when the people do the right things, they do themselves a lot of favor,” Buhari said. As according to the Nigerian president, there is no half way to preserve peace in a country and avoid the citizens asking for what is rightfully theirs. “We’ve accepted multi-party democracy, and we must comply with its tenets”, President Buhari added.
Buhari told Barrow that the role played by his country in pushing Yahya Jammeh out of power in 2017 was the least Nigeria could play in leading an ECOWAS onslaught against a sit-tight president like Jammeh. “I was in Gambia physically at least two times. It was the least we could do to stabilize the region” Buhari said.
The retired general was also keen to remind President Adama Barrow that though Nigeria struggles with its internal demons and hardships, it will continue to support The Gambia in a country to country relationship but within the framework set up by ECOWAS during the 44th Ordinary Meeting of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council held last August in Niamey. “We are dealing with our own troubles here, but we will continue to support you bilaterally, and through ECOWAS. By supporting you, we were supporting ECOWAS” President Buhari added.
President Adama Barrow submitted that his visit was meant to say “thank you to Nigeria once again for its various helps”, noting that its “support had been unflinching since he got to office in 2017. You have given us technical support in the Ministry of Education, in Ministry of Justice, and in many other areas. We are grateful,” Barrow said.
Nigeria and The Gambia recently sealed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on what would be the terms redefining Nigeria’s military post ECOMIG role in The Gambia. Earlier last October, Gambian ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Omar Faye and Mamadou Tangara went to Abuja to discuss the terms of the MoU and advocate for Nigeria’s importance in assisting The Gambia’s Security sector reform. The content of the MoU is yet kept away from the curiosity of the media.