President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday stunned guests when he revealed what transpired between him and President Donald Trump over the American leader’s allegation that the Nigerian government was supervising the killing of Christians under his administration.
President Buhari said he, during the visit in 2018, defended himself telling the American President that the problem between cattle herders and farmers was a cultural thing rather than ethnicity or religion.
Recall that Buhari had met with Trump in Washington on April 30, 2018 to discuss sundry issues, including the fight against terrorism and economic growth.
President Buhari recalled what transpired during their closed-door meeting where both he and Trump met when he honoured the invitation to the White House only for the American President to pointedly accuse him of orchestrating the killing of Christians in Nigeria.
President Buhari who was making his closing remark at the end of the two-day ministerial performance review retreat at the presidential villa, Abuja, said he explained the problem, which he said, was older than him, was caused by successive leaderships failure in the country.
The President, who, however, applauded the first republic leadership for being the best the country had ever had, accused subsequent administrations of encroaching on cattle routes.
Digressing from his prepared text, President narrated: “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited, and when I was in his office only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, he said ‘why are you killing Christians?’
“I wonder if you were the person how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion.
“So, I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and stagnant farmers I know is older than me, not to talk of him (Trump). I think I am a couple of years older than him.
“WITH climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root to your water point, they will follow it, it doesn’t matter whose farm it was.
“The first republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s, which delineated the cattle routes where they used meagre resources then to put earth dams, windmills even sanitary department.
“So, any cattle rearer that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm is arrested, taken before the court, the farmer is called to submit his bill and if he can’t pay, the cattle are sold, but subsequent leaders, VVIPs (very very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes, and took over the cattle rearing areas.
“So, I tried and explained to him, this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing on which the respective leadership failed to nation.”