President Buhari’s final appointment during his official state visit to the United States was an address at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on July 22nd. His speech, scheduled to begin at 10am, was to cover security and counterterrorism issues in Nigeria and West Africa.
After his brief talk, members of the audience were invited to ask questions in a session moderated by former Undersecretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson.
One such question came from Dr. Pauline Baker, the President Emeritus of The Fund for Peace, who inquired about security in the Niger Delta area. The exact wording of her question was: "My question relates to another area of Nigeria that hasn't gotten a lot of attention during this trip and that is the Niger Delta. It's a challenge that you are going to face. I wonder if you would tell us how you intend to approach it with particular reference to the amnesty, bunkering, and inclusive development?"
President Buhari seemed to struggle with the question and at what point needed some assistance from Mr. Carson. President Buhari looked at Mr. Carson with a puzzled expression and said, “inclusive?”
“Inclusive government…including women, youth” Mr. Carson responded to President Buhari. “I see,” the President finally said.
President Buhari looked at Dr. Baker and said, “I hope you have a copy of the election results. The constituents, for example, gave me 97% [of the vote] cannot in all honesty be treated on some issues with constituencies that gave me 5%.”
“I think these are political reality,” the President added.
When contacted by SaharaReporters, Dr. Baker said that she felt the President’s answer was “unclear, and not very audible” but that he did finish “by saying their [the Delta residents’] interests would be protected.”
Dr. Baker added “I didn’t feel like he addressed amnesty or the oil bunkering I asked about.”