US Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Leonard. Image: US Embassy & Consulate, Nigeria
ABUJA (PUNCH)--New United States Ambassador to Nigeria Ms Mary Leonard said on Tuesday her country decided to place Nigeria on its watch list due to the humanitarian situation in the country.
She stated that the action was taken as part of an effort to deepen conversation on the issue.
Leonard spoke in Abuja when she visited the Presidential Villa to present her letter of credence to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
But Buhari insisted that Nigeria was wrongly presented to the rest of the world because other countries, including the US, did not widen their sources of information on the country.
A statement by Buhari’s media aide, Mr Garba Shehu, after the meeting, partly read, “The United States Ambassador said Nigeria was listed on a watch list to deepen conversation on the humanitarian situation in the country, accepting that some people could ‘flare the flames and crystalise issues’ that could affect peaceful coexistence.”
The statement quoted the envoy as saying, “There are people who make things less attractive than they seem. The report (on Nigeria) will deepen conversation of the situation in the country, especially with religious leaders and mediators.”
Leonard also told the retired Major General that the US “recognises and celebrates the integration in Nigeria”, adding that her country would “always side with transparent processes.”
She said she was happy to be in Nigeria and would spend time promoting efforts at addressing the humanitarian challenges facing the country.
Leonard said, “I feel it is a privilege and great honour to be here; coming to see the giant of Africa. I have worked for 30 decades before coming to Nigeria. We will do a lot together for peace, security and delivering humanitarian assistance.”
However, Buhari, who told the ambassador that some sources of information might be “misleading” and “self-serving”, said his conscience was clear in line with the oath he took to defend Nigeria.
He said, “I know that those with access have created an impression of being marginalised. I sit here with a clear conscience. I took an oath and I am honouring the office.”
He recalled how he explained to President Donald Trump, during a visit to Washington DC, that reports on attacks on segments of Nigeria were not entirely true.
Buhari added, “It is not an easy task to work for the unity of the country, and I am doing my best.
“During your stay in the country I am asking you to ensure that your sources of strategic information cut across.”
He advised the envoy to take her time to study Nigeria by getting facts on the situation of things in the country.
The Presidency said Buhari also received Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ahamed Khan’s, letter of credence