He also put the blame of the deteriorating condition of the refugees on Boko Haram, saying the terrorists caused it, and not the Nigerian government.
According to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, critics who accusing the President of religious and ethnic bias are playing into the hands of the Boko Haram sect who want to divide Nigerians along religious lines.
Shehu stated this in a statement on Monday, August 1, while reacting to The London Telegraph’s article “Children Face Death by Starvation in Northern Nigeria,” which was published last Saturday.
He said the article repeated a claim from an earlier piece “Nigeria Using UK Aid to Persecute President’s Political Foes” published on April 12, indicating that Nigeria was diverting United Kingdom’s aid monies away from defeating the Islamist terror group Boko Haram towards those the newspaper identifies as political opponents of the administration.
“As for claims that the administration is targeting Christians and the opposition, these are without foundation," Shehu said.
“Since assuming office, President Buhari has treated all Nigerians without bias for ethnicity or religion – as the composition of his cabinet and the policies and programmes of his administration demonstrate.
“To suggest his government as deepening Muslim-Christian division is not only untrue, but plays into the hands of Boko Haram who wish to divide Nigerians along religious lines.
“Fighting this group is key priority of President Buhari’s administration. Indeed the international community has widely acknowledged his determination to defeat terrorism in Nigeria and the entire Lake Chad Basin.
“There is nothing to gain by attempting to mould public opinion against these facts. Therefore we invite The Telegraph to visit Nigeria: to witness first hand not only the challenges we face, but the administration’s determination to confront them,” the Presidential spokesman said.
Speaking further, Shehu added: “To state the facts: the UK government does not give development aid to the Nigerian administration for use in military operations against Boko Haram. Where British military support – such as intelligence – is provided, it is precisely and only, given for operations directly against Boko Haram.
“Similarly, the Nigerian Government is in no position to divert aid monies used for emergency relief for refugees or IDP camps for any other purpose, as these are dispensed directly by DFID, USAID, the United Nations, the International Red Cross, Doctors without Borders and many other organisations – with which we enjoy excellent relations.
“The humanitarian situation in these camps is real. The administration remains deeply concerned about the medical, health and nutrition challenges and we are doing everything with the limited resources we have at our disposal to improve the situation.”
He also put the blame for the deteriorating condition of the refugees on Boko Haram, saying the terrorists caused, and not the Nigerian government.