President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday hosted behind closed-door President Adama Barrow of Gambia at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The visiting while addressing State House correspondent acknowledged the important role President Buhari played in resolving the political impasse that trailed his triumph at the polls. He said President Buhari ‘changed everything’.
President Barrow said during a meeting in Mali “he (Buhari) took a decision as a leader in a closed-door meeting, he made one statement that changed everything: that if The Gambian President wants to challenge the sub-region, he is welcome”.
“This was his words and that made a big difference as a leader. And that leadership role was very important not just for The Gambians but for Africa, because the problem was an African problem with an African solution”.
Mr. Barrow said his visit to Nigeria was very important to Gambians.
“We have always wanted to say thank you when Nigeria gave us all the support during and after the impasse. Nigeria has been supporting The Gambia for a long time in different areas like technical assistance in the area of education, judiciary. We are really happy to come,” he said.
President Barrow said his visit was simply to thank President Buhari for his support, saying it is a tradition in the Gambia that “if you want to thank a farmer for a good job, you have to visit him at his farm and that is why we are here”.
On the “deal” entered with the former President that made him eventually leave office, Mr. Jammeh said it was fostered through ECOWAS, the UNDP and the international community.
“Nigeria was involved and Liberia as the chair was involved, the Guinean President and the Mauritanian President were also involved. The Guinean President and the Mauritanian President were physically on the ground, for him to accept the will of the people, exit to allow us to assume office.
“This was the deal, he accepted to go into exile which we couldn’t guarantee his security. This was the deal,” he said.
Mr. Buhari also responded to a question from a Gambian journalist on the role that Nigeria will continue to play to help The Gambia overcome some of the reforms it is undertaking such as insecurity.
President Buhari said the regional body did its best “in the most critical time” adding that “hopefully now the president will raise his team and we will raise a corresponding team and we will sit together and see how we can draw a political programme that will complement each other’s effort on development. So this is the next line we are going.”