Remarks With Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari
Secretary of State
SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. I am very honored to welcome somebody who’s become a friend, the president of Nigeria, President Buhari. I first met him when I went over there before the elections, and we had occasion to talk about the importance of the election process. It was in the middle of the campaign. And then I had the pleasure of going back for his inauguration, which was very festive and represented the first transfer peacefully of power as the result of an election, and it was a very, very important moment.
Nigeria is an extraordinarily important country, and we have very, very important interests together. We have pledged with the President’s meeting yesterday to work very closely on economic development, on the economy, on counterterrorism, on regional issues, but very importantly also, to join together in an effort to do a better job of taking on Boko Haram. The president is deeply committed to this endeavor. He has a military background. He has himself been in combat. He has led the armed forces of his country and he knows what this is going to take. So we have a ready and willing partner, and we look forward to developing our counterterrorism and our counter-Boko Haram plans even as we also work on energy development, on education, health, and other issues within the country.
So we’re delighted to welcome the president here to Washington. He’s brought a very significant delegation with a number of governors. That’s very important to the ability to put in reforms, and I might mention the president is deeply committed to tackling the problem of corruption, which has prevented the country from doing many of the developmental and other initiatives that are on the table.
So Mr. President, we welcome you. We’re really delighted to have you here. Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT BUHARI: Thank you very much, (inaudible). I’m very pleased to get this opportunity to thank the Secretary of State because his visit to Nigeria, which he’s just referred to, since his visit seemed like a friend to Nigeria. As the United States’ message sent to the previous administration was clean and clear that the United States would not accept anything extraconstitutional, that prepared the minds of Nigerians to back us and to arrive where we are today. Nigeria will remain very grateful to the United States, to the President, and to the Secretary of State. He saw the president then, he saw the chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, and he saw the opposition. And by the day, the United States maintained pressure on the government, the law enforcement agencies, and the election officials to make sure that the election was free and fair.
We thank God, we thank the United States, we thank technology for the introduction of a permanent voter’s card and reader cards made so much difference from previous elections. I thank you very much, Secretary. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen of the press.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT BUHARI: Thank you very much. Happy to see you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. We’re going to have a working lunch now. Thank you.