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Nigeria is a country with potential, Welby tells President

20 May 2016

Lambeth Palace

Building bridges: the Archbishop of Canterbury welcomes the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, to Lambeth Palace for talks last week

Building bridges: the Archbishop of Canterbury welcomes the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, to Lambeth Palace for talks last week

NIGERIA is a country of enormous potential, the Archbishop of Canter­bury said last week at a meeting with the President of Nigeria, Muham­madu Buhari, at Lambeth Palace, shortly after President Buhari had attended an anti-corruption conference in London.

The build-up to the conference, which was held last week, had been overshadowed by a comment from David Cameron. He was heard by news cameras telling the Queen, and Archbishop Welby, during a recep­tion at Buckingham Palace, that Nigeria, like other nations due to attend the conference, was “fantas­tic­ally corrupt”.

Archbishop Welby is then heard to say that, in his opinion, the current President of Nigeria, President Buhari, was trying to stamp out corruption.

During their meeting in Lambeth Palace, Archbishop Welby told the President: “Nigeria is a country with more promise, more opportunity, more potential, than anywhere else that I know in many continents, not just in Africa.

”Its people are so intelligent, so full of energy, so full of commit­ment, that when Nigerians work together, the world — not just Africa — is affected by that beneficially.”

Earlier, President Buhari had told reporters that he was not interested in an apology from Mr Cameron, but rather in retrieving money and assets that had been concealed in the UK by wealthy Nigerians to avoid tax at home.

Archbishop Welby praised Nigeria’s vibrant Anglican Church. “We pray for Nigeria, for you per­son­ally, for all those, both in govern­ment and in opposition in Nigeria, for the poor in Nigeria, and for those who have suffered over the last number of years from the violence that has plagued your country, which you have been tackling so determinedly since you first took office,” he told President Buhari.

The President was also welcomed to the Palace by the secretary-general of the Anglican Commu­nion, the Rt Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, and the Bishop of Guild­ford, the Rt Revd Andrew Watson, whose diocese has a long-standing link with the Church of Nigeria.

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