President Muhammadu Buhari's interview with Al-Jazeera during his recent visit to Doha, Qatar, broke the internet.
The interview by Martine Dennis was broadcast 3 days ago.
Buhari confirmed Nigeria’s membership of the coalition, further fueling speculations of alleged plans to Islamise the country. When asked if non-Muslims would not feel that he is attempting to change the religious identity of the country, Buhari said:
“Why can’t those Christians that complain fight terrorism in Nigeria or fight the militants in the south? It’s Nigeria that matters, not the opinion of the religious bigots.”
Another statement that became controversial was when Mr. President admitted that while his own children attend foreign schools in England, anyone who could not afford to pay the fees by purchasing their forex on the black market should simply bring their children back to Nigeria:
AlJazeera: “What about those who are slightly more privileged like yourself? You’ve got children studying abroad. There are parents in Nigeria with kids in universities and schools abroad, who are now facing the possibility of having to pull their kids out. They can actually no longer afford to pay for school fees?”
Buhari: “If the country cannot afford it, so be it.”
Al Jazeera: “But your children will continue their studies, no doubt?”
Buhari: “Those who can afford it, can still afford it. But for those who can’t, Nigeria cannot afford to allocate foreign exchange for those who decided to train their children outside the country. We can’t just afford it.”
Al Jazeera: “So it’s tough luck.”
Buhari: “Well, that’s the true situation we are in.”
On the renewed Biafra agitation, Buhari maintained that Nigeria’s unity is a priority for the country and demanding the separation of the Biafran territories is against the constitution. Asked how he was planning to deal with Biafra issue, the answered that the Biafran agitators were not being guided by the history of such rebellion in the 1960s to 1970, where about two million lives were lost.
According to the President:
“At least two millions Nigerians were killed in the Biafra war. And for somebody to wake up may be they weren’t born. Looking for Biafra after two millions people were killed, they are joking with the security and Nigeria won’t tolerate Biafra.”
The declaration of the Independent Republic of Biafra in 1967 caused a civil war that resulted in the death of millions and the re-annexation of the republic to Nigeria in 1970.
I admire Buhari for his candour, and Nigerians need more of Martine Dennis.