President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday met with the President of Gambia, Adama Barrow at the Presidential Villa, Abuja behind closed doors.
The Gambian president after the meeting told State House correspondents that he was in Abuja to thank Nigeria for the support given to his country during and after the impasse.
“My visit is very important to us. We have always wanted to say thank you when Nigeria gave us all the support during and after the impasse. Nigeria has been supportive of 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.
“When we met 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 subregion, he is welcome."
“This was his words and that makes a big difference as a leader. And that leadership role was very important not just for the Gambia but for Africa because the problem was an African problem with an Africa solution."
“So we are very grateful and that was why we wanted to come and say thank you. There is a saying in my country 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,” he said
Asked what was the deal he struck with the former president that led to the smooth transition, he said: “Basically, the deal was ECOWAS was involved, UNDP and the international community was involved to mediate and this mediation, 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 on exile which we couldn’t guarantee his security. This was the deal,” he said.
On what role Nigeria will continue to play to help the Gambia overcome its challenges including security, President Buhari said: “Well, your president has virtually answered the question. We did our best in the most critical time, 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 program that will complement each other’s effort on development. So this is the next time we are going.”