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President Buhari says Donald Trump accused him of killing Christians

United States President Donald Trump once asked President Muhammadu Buhari why he was killing Christians, the Nigerian leader said in an off-the-cuff remark during a ministerial retreat at the State House, Abuja on September 8, 2020.

Buhari said Trump posed the question in the heat of the farmers-herders clashes in the country’s north central region and the reprisal attacks involving Muslim and Christian communities in the north.

“I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of the United States invited,” Buhari said.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, he asked, ‘why are you killing Christians?’

The president said it took a lot of restraint on his part not to flare up and that he hoped his emotions on the day didn’t betray him.

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react? I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and stagnant farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him,” he said.

Buhari is 77 while Trump is 74.

Buhari said he had to tell Trump that the crisis in the north is more cultural than ethnic.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meagre resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearer that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

President Donald Trump (L) and President Buhari (R) sign bilateral agreements at the oval office in 2018 (Presidency)
The president thereafter returned to his prepared speech and told his ministers and aides to vigorously defend the government they serve in.

“I have to charge all of you to defend the government vigorously and not allow irresponsible and politically motivated activists to keep spreading patent falsehoods about this government.

"Information to the public should be better packaged. Go on the offensive. We are proud of our achievements and we should blow our own trumpets,” Buhari said.

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