President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday returned to Abuja after a successful outing at the 30th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he was conferred as the anti-corruption Champion.
The theme of the 30th AU Summit was; “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.’’
The President’s aircraft landed at the presidential wing of the Nnamdi International Airport Abuja at about 2.20p.m.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari, Inspector-General of Police Idris Ibrahim, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Musa Bello, Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr Ahmed Abubakar and other presidential aides were at the airport to welcome the President.
President Buhari had on January 27 started his four-day engagement in Addis Ababa when he joined 14 other members of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union to discuss conflict and crisis situations across the continent.
PSC is a standing organ of the AU for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts.
The meeting discussed the persistence of violent conflicts and crisis situations in some parts of the continent, the upsurge of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees, climate change and its consequences as well as the issue of the derailment of national development programmes.
The meeting also reviewed the situations in Somalia, South Sudan, Libya, Guinea Bissau, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
At the meeting, President Buhari had stressed the need to curb the flow of terrorism financing.
The President, who spoke under the theme, “Towards a Comprehensive Approach to Combat the Transnational Threat to Terrorism”, maintained that “concerted efforts must be made to dismantle the network between transnational organised crimes and terrorist organisations, and also to block the payment of ransom to terrorist groups.
Buhari expressed Nigeria’s grave concern over the increasing threats posed by transnational terrorism and the attendant humanitarian crisis.
The president also condemned in the strongest terms the continued activities of the terrorist groups in Africa, and around the world and called for more concerted action by the African body and the international community to address the global scourge.
According to him, in doing that, the conditions that are conducive to the spread of extremism, radicalisation and terrorism must first be addressed.
He added that collaborative measures must be taken to disrupt the recruitment of terrorists, their financing networks and the movement of foreign fighters.
Buhari disclosed that Nigeria had enacted domestic anti-terrorism laws that also deal with related issues such as kidnapping, drug peddling and gun-running.
He, however, noted “terrorism cannot be defeated only through military force and law enforcement measures.
While formally launching the African Anti-Corruption Year 2018 during the Opening Ceremony of the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union on Sunday, Buhari described corruption as “one of the greatest evils of our time.’’
The President thanked his African colleagues for entrusting him with such a noble responsibility.
He pledged to do his best “to ensure that the anti-corruption agenda receive the attention it deserves and make the impact we all hope for, during 2018 and beyond.”
He said: “Corruption is indeed one of the greatest evils of our time. Corruption rewards those who do not play by the rules and also creates a system of distortion and diversion thereby destroying all efforts at constructive, just and fair governance.’’
The President, who noted that Africa had made some significant strides in enacting legal and policy frameworks such as the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC) to address the vice, said the desired impact had been lacking.
“Fifteen (15) years after the adoption of the African Union Convention, 2018 provides a good starting point to take stock of progress made so far, assess what still needs to be done and devise new strategies to address new corruption challenges,” he said.
President Buhari and ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo had exchange pleasantries briefly before the opening ceremony of the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly.
Their contact marked the first time both men met since the controversial special letter released by Obasanjo criticizing Buhari’s administration and advising him not to seek re-election in 2019.
The latest reaction to Obasanjo’s letter came from a serving Minister of Communications, Alhaji Adebayo Shittu, who on Monday, advised the former president to allow Nigerians to determine Buhari’s eligibility or otherwise to re-contest the presidential election in 2019.
Shittu told State House correspondents in an interview that, “Obasanjo as a Nigerian has the right to hold an opinion.
According to him, if Obasanjo holds an opinion that Mr President has performed less than it should be, those of us who are in the position to know better has a right to also state the other side, which perhaps Obasanjo is ignorant of.
“You see, there are some people who enjoy engaging in sensationalism.
“With due respect to General Obasanjo, if you take his history over the last 30 years, there is hardly any regime other than his own that he did not criticize except Sani Abacha, who didn’t wait for Obasanjo to criticize him before he was sent to the gulag.
“So many Nigerians know that Obasanjo enjoys this type of sensationalisation’’.
President Buhari also attended the closing ceremony of the summit on Monday where the African Union inaugurated the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).