The Presidency on Monday said contrary to claims by some individuals and groups, President Muhammdu Buhari has treated all Nigerians without bias for ethnicity or religion in his appointments and policies since he assumed office on May 29, 2015.
It said claims that the present administration was targeting Christians and members of the opposition were without foundation.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this in a statement while reacting to The London Telegraph’s article “Children Face Death by Starvation in Northern Nigeria” published on Saturday.
Shehu said the article repeated a claim from an earlier piece “Nigeria Using UK Aid to Persecute President’s Political Foes” published on April 12, indicating that Nigeria was diverting United Kingdom’s aid monies away from defeating the Islamist terror group Boko Haram towards those the newspaper identifies as political opponents of the administration.
He said the statement was incorrect and unhelpful.
The presidential spokesman said to suggest Buhari’s government as deepening Muslim-Christian division was not only untrue, but played into the hands of Boko Haram who wished to divide Nigerians along religious lines.
He said, “As for claims that the administration is targeting Christians and the opposition, these are without foundation.
“Since assuming office, President Buhari has treated all Nigerians without bias for ethnicity or religion – as the composition of his cabinet and the policies and programmes of his administration demonstrate.
“To suggest his government as deepening Muslim-Christian division is not only untrue, but plays into the hands of Boko Haram who wish to divide Nigerians along religious lines.
“Fighting this group is key priority of President Buhari’s administration. Indeed the international community has widely acknowledged his determination to defeat terrorism in Nigeria and the entire Lake Chad Basin.
“There is nothing to gain by attempting to mould public opinion against these facts. Therefore we invite The Telegraph to visit Nigeria: to witness first hand not only the challenges we face, but the administration’s determination to confront them.”
Shehu noted that while the claims in both articles were attributed to an unnamed source in the United States and “Western officials”, yet the first article drew the condemnation of the US Embassy in Abuja as having drawn conclusions directly opposite to the position of the US government when it was first published.
He explained that the UK government does not give development aid to the Nigerian government for operations against Boko Haram.
He added that the Federal Government is not in position to divert aid monies meant for refugees.
He also noted that the blame for the plight of refugees lies with members of Boko Haram, saying they are its cause, not the Nigerian government.
He added, “To state the facts: the UK government does not give development aid to the Nigerian administration for use in military operations against Boko Haram. Where British military support – such as intelligence – is provided, it is precisely and only, given for operations directly against Boko Haram.
“Similarly, the Nigerian Government is in no position to divert aid monies used for emergency relief for refugees or IDP camps for any other purpose, as these are dispensed directly by DFID, USAID, the United Nations, the International Red Cross, Doctors without Borders and many other organisations – with which we enjoy excellent relations.
“The humanitarian situation in these camps is real. The administration remains deeply concerned about the medical, health and nutrition challenges and we are doing everything with the limited resources we have at our disposal to improve the situation.”