President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday told the United States government to shelve any hope that he could support gay marriage.
He also pledged to recover Nigeria’s stolen oil wealth and prosecute culprits.
The request for Buhari’s support for the US government’s desire to have Nigeria’s anti-gay law repealed was disclosed by the Special Assistant to the President on Media, Femi Adesina, on his tweeter handle on Wednesday.
In a series of tweets to give updates on President Buhari’s trip, Adesina wrote: “Talks shifted to another matter once PMB (President Muhammadu Buhari) emphatically stated Nigeria’s stand on same sex marriage. The issue was not pushed.”
He also tweeted: “The same sex marriage issue came up at the joint session of Senate and House Committees on Foreign Affairs, not in direct talks with (US President Barack) Obama.”
Adesina added: “The issue of gay marriage came up here yesterday (Tuesday). PMB was point blank. Sodomy is against the law in Nigeria, and abhorrent to our culture.”
Buhari pledged that his administration would trace the accounts of individuals who stashed away ill-gotten oil money, freeze them and recover the loot.
He also said that culprits would also be prosecuted,” according to a statement issued on Tuesday night by his Senior Special Assistant, Garba Shehu, from Washington DC.
The United States had earlier assured President Buhari of their assistance in efforts to retrieve Nigeria’s stolen wealth, promising to train the country’s judicial staff and prosecutors to that effect.
Buhari, according to the statement, spoke while reacting to questions from members of Nigerians In Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) in the United States and Canada at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC on the third day of his visit.
The President lamented that “Corruption in Nigeria has virtually developed into a culture where honest people are abused.”
He said: “250,000 barrels per day of Nigerian crude are being stolen and people sell and put the money into individual accounts,” adding that the United States and other developed countries “are helping us to trace such accounts now. We will ask that such accounts be frozen and prosecute the persons.
“The amount involved is mind-boggling. Some former ministers were selling about one million barrels per day. I assure you that we will trace and repatriate such money and use the documents to prosecute them.
“A lot of damage has been done to the integrity of Nigeria with individuals and institutions already compromised.”
President Buhari lamented that unlike what obtained during his tenure as Federal Commissioner for Petroleum under military regime when the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had only two traceable accounts before paying oil proceeds into the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), “now everybody is doing anyhow.”
Buhari said that if oil subsidy is removed, transport, housing and food prices would go out of control and the average worker would suffer untold hardships.
While agreeing that the “economy is in an extremely bad shape,” following 16 years of bad government by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which ran down the oil refineries and had the “treasury in their pockets,” he said the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration would fulfill its three-pronged campaign manifesto of providing security, turning around the economy with a major focus on youth employment and fighting corruption.
Agriculture and mining, he promised, would receive priority attention as faster job-creation avenues for the teeming unemployed youth, adding that some foreign investors had agreed to take advantage of the immense business opportunities in Nigeria.
Asked if the Federal Government (FG) would agree to negotiate with the Boko Haram insurgents and terrorist organization to pave way for the release of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, President Buhari replied that the FG would only negotiate if genuine and confirmed leaders of the militant sect came forward and convinced the FG of the current conditions of the girls, their location and the sect’s willingness to negotiate.
“Our objective is that we want the girls back, alive and returned to their families and rehabilitated. We are working with neighbouring countries if they will help,” he said.
On when he would form his cabinet, the President, who observed jokingly that the question was chasing him around the world even to the point that at home he had been nicknamed, “Baba Go Slow!”, noted that not even the PDP during all the years it ruled the country ever formed a cabinet within the first four months.
“I am going to go slow and steady,” he assured, as he called for patience to allow the new administration “put some sense into governance and deal with corruption.”
President Buhari promised that his administration would at the right time tap into the enormous talents available amongst members of NIDO especially as consultants while their requests for voting right in 2019, a Diaspora Commission and opening of new consulates in parts of the United States and Canada would be looked into.
The President had earlier met at the same venue with a group of young professionals in the United States and assured them of his government’s resolve to fight corruption, remain steadfast and invest heavily in education which he said was the answer to taking the youth out of poverty and ignorance.