President Muhammadu Buhari has returned to Abuja after joining world leaders in making a firm commitment to increase funding for the education sector at the recent Global Education Summit in London, United Kingdom.
Buhari also used the opportunity of the trip to spend a few days for his medical check-up. The president travelled to the UK on July 26.
While he was away, members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) began a strike over the repeated failure of his administration to implement agreements signed with them.
Buhari and members of his family routinely travel to the UK for medical treatment. Before the recent trip, he had travelled in March and returned to the country two weeks later.
The Global Education Summit, co-hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya successfully generated about four billion dollars out of the targeted five billion dollars for the transformation of the education sector in low-income countries, including Nigeria.
Buhari, who actively participated in the activities of the summit, appeared on a panel of discussants with a live audience alongside his counterparts from other African countries, including Mr Kenyatta, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, President Faure Eyadema of Togo and President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi.
The summit focused on topical issues including Education’s Reset – Learning from COVID; Transforming the Child’s Learning Journey; Gender Equality in and Through Education; Ripple Effect – Education’s Impact on Sustainability, and Financing for Impact – Volume, Equity, Efficiency.
At the summit, the Nigerian leader pledged to increase the budget for the education sector in Nigeria by as much as 50 per cent over the next two years.
“We commit to progressively increase our annual domestic education expenditure by 50 per cent over the next two years and up to 100 per cent by 2025 beyond the 20 per cent global benchmark,” he stated.
The president also held bilateral meetings with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, at the sidelines of the Global Education Summit.
Messrs Buhari and Johnson, during the bilateral talks, appraised the war against different forms of terrorism in Nigeria and agreed that the judicial process be allowed to run its course.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement, quoted the two leaders saying it was important that ”the judicial process runs without interference, no matter who was involved”.
He said Buhari also briefed the prime minister on Nigeria’s power needs and efforts being made, as well as initiatives geared at achieving food security.
The president also reviewed the security situation in the different regions of the country, while Johnson pledged Britain’s preparedness to lend a helping hand.
“We are available to help,” Mr Adesina quoted the British PM as saying.
“The two leaders equally discussed how to increase trade between the two countries, develop solar and wind power, the leadership of the Commonwealth going forward and other matters of mutual interest,” Mr Adesina added.
During the bilateral meeting with the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Patricia Scotland, Buhari said Nigeria would be glad to receive support from the Commonwealth in diverse areas of needs and challenges.
The president said Nigeria was doing a lot to address the issue of food security through heavy investment in agriculture and tackle security issues confronting the country in different regions.
He, therefore, welcomed the offer of assistance by the Commonwealth scribe.
Baroness Scotland said the Commonwealth had developed programmes on agribusiness, adding value to agriculture products for young people to get involved, climate change, criminal justice reforms, police reforms and security.
She, therefore, invited Nigeria to benefit from technical assistance that could be provided.
She added that since Buhari was the Champion for Anti-Corruption in Africa, the Commonwealth had developed anti-corruption benchmark tools, and would like to work with Nigeria in both public and private sectors.
Other areas the Commonwealth could assist, according to Ms Scotland, include countering violent extremism, trade and modalities to implement the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
Before departing London, Buhari was reported to have on Thursday visited former Lagos State governor and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, who is believed to be on a medical trip to London.
Those at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja to welcome the president included his Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammad Bello, security chiefs as well as some presidential aides.