President Muhammadu Buhari has requested the United Kingdom to help get Lloyd’s of London, the world’s specialist insurance market, to divulge the names of the owners of Lloyd’s insured vessels that engage in “illegal practices” in the Nigerian oil industry.
Minister of Environment, Hajia Amina Mohammed, who briefed journalists after a Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday, said the president’s foreign trips had yielded positive results, contrary to claims that his trips had produced nothing.
She explained that it was during one of such trips that Buhari requested the British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron, to help with tracing operators of vessels that engage in illegal activities in Nigerian oil industry.
However, the president’s request might be impossible to meet, as Lloyd’s would only provide the federal government with the names of owners of vessels that operate in Nigeria, and not those that operate “illicitly”, as no vessel operator informs its insurer that it is engaged in illicit operations.
Ms. Mohammed said the trips by the president were justified because whatever measure the president takes with regard to the fight against corruption must be backed by regional and international partnership.
She said: “Also, the second Summit of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum in Johannesburg had 47 heads of state. At the summit, the Chinese President reaffirmed China’s solidarity and friendship with Africa and announced the offer of 10 cooperation plans with Africa in the next three years.
“Plans covering $60 billion funding support in the following areas: industrialisation plan, agriculture modernisation plan, infrastructure plan, finance plan, trading and investment facilitation plan, poverty reduction plan, health plan and people to people plan, as well as peace and security plan.”
She said all these are issues that would be of immense benefit to Nigeria.
According to her, the president has able lieutenants, starting from the vice-president to other cabinet members to run the affairs of the country when he is away.
She said at no time did any affair of state suffer because of the president’s absence, adding that Buhari would still have to embark on more trips to win more support for his programmes, which included peace and security.
The minister said the issue of terrorism cuts across borders, noting that there was no way the president can simply resolve the crisis without working with other countries.
Also speaking, the Information Minister, Mr. Lai Muhammed, said the president’s numerous trips were the subject of the FEC meeting wednesday.
He said: “You do not run a country by being isolated and the personal presence of the president in many of these forums is very important because before now we were almost a pariah state.
“The two things that have been driving investments away from this country is terrorism and corruption.
“One thing that nobody can fault this president for is his determination to fight these two ills. Mr. President’s presence in these forums is very crucial even to the economy back at home.
“What I mean that Nigeria was a pariah state is that before now the level of corruption was very high that nobody was ready to risk his investment in Nigeria.
“The cost of doing business was so high that most international businessmen didn’t want to come here.
“Who is coming to invest in a country where there is insecurity? These are the twin problems that Mr. President has addressed in the last nine months.”
When asked why the biting economy and the continuing depreciation of the naira were not the subject of discussions at the FEC meeting, Mohammed said he was embarrassed by that question.
“Frankly speaking, I’m embarrassed and shocked because, she (Amina Mohammed) was short of giving you the agenda of FEC. That was exactly what was discussed today.
“We believe we have a responsibility to let Nigerians who have been complaining about the various trips of Mr. President to know that this is what was achieved from what was discussed there. I think that is important for Nigerians.
“Two, you might have reported climate change in the past, but climate change remains important to Nigeria. The fact that Lake Chad has reduced to 10 per cent of what it used to be, there is an implication to this, even for Boko Haram,” he said.