President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the role played by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the release of the 21 abducted Chibok schoolgirls.
The President, however, urged the group to sustain its humanitarian interest in Nigeria.
He made the remarks on Monday at a meeting with the ICRC President, Mr Peter Maurer, at the State House in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
Nigeria’s Biggest Problem
Buhari said his administration was prepared to continue talks with the Boko Haram insurgents,” as long as they agree to involve international agencies like ICRC.
“We’ve seen the result of recent talks, 21 of the Chibok girls are back,” the President said, 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.
He pointed out that Nigeria’s biggest problem was perhaps, the issue of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
President Buhari also noted that there were over two million of them, “made up of over 60% women and children.
“About 60% of the children don’t know their parents, or where they come from.
“It is weighing heavily on government,” he stated.
Difficult Time For Nigeria
President Buhari said rebuilding destroyed infrastructure was a priority of the government, adding that the G7 had equally indicated support, which Nigeria heartily welcomed.
“We appreciate all your efforts.
“I am pleased you recognised 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 optimistic President said.
In his remarks, Mr Maurer said the ICRC’s operation in the Lake Chad region was the second largest in the world, after Syria.
He identified the nutritional, health, water and sanitation issues in the Northeast region, 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 pointed out.
The ICRC President commended Nigeria for granting increased access to detainees and exchanges with the Armed Forces.
He said the detention facilities had improved, citing the cases of better health conditions and fewer deaths recorded.