President Muhammadu Buhari says the killing of Christians in the country is cultural and has not ethnic or religious affiliations.
Mr Buhari stated this yesterday while speaking at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat at the presidential villa, Abuja. He said this formed part of the discussion he had with the president of the United States of America, Donald Trump, when he visited the latter in April 2018.
The Nigerian leader said Mr Trump privately asked him why Christians are being killed in the country and he responded by telling him it was not his making as the violence predated him.
While linking the killings to the unending herders and farmers clashes, Buhari also blamed subsequent governments that came after the first republic, of doing nothing to remedy the situation.
“I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries, the president of United States invited, and when I was in his office only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, he said ‘why are you killing Christians?’” Buhari said.
“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 (Trump). I think I am a couple of years older than him.
“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, 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 routes 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 is arrested, taken before the court, the farmer is called to submit his bill and if he can’t pay, the cattle are sold, but subsequent leaders, VVIPs (very very important persons) they encroached on the cattle routes, they took over the cattle rearing areas.
“So, I tried and explained to him, this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing which the respective leadership was failing the nation,” he added.