The Borno Governor, Kashim Shettima, said on Friday that he was at a 2015 meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the President of the World Bank, Jim Kim.
According to Mr. Shettima, four other governors including three from Southern Nigeria were also at the meeting.
In a statement by his spokesperson, Mr. Shettima said it was at that meeting that President Buhari requested the World Bank to focus its efforts on rebuilding the North-east which has been devastated by Boko Haram attacks.
On Thursday, a statement by the World Bank chief that Mr. Buhari asked the agency to focus on “northern regions of Nigeria” caused a stir among Nigerians with critics accusing the Nigerian leader of promoting sectional interests.
“In my very first meeting with President Buhari he said specifically that he would like us to shift our focus to the northern regions of Nigeria and we’ve done that,” said Mr. Kim, who has led the World Bank since 2012.
One of such critics who latched on to the World Bank chief’s statement was the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, a vociferous critic of Mr. Buhari.
“Once again, the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari is an ethnic champion, a religious bigot and the number one promoter of disunity in Nigeria was brought to the fore by the President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim,” Mr. Fayose said in a statement by his spokesperson, Lere Olayinka.
The presidency on Friday, however, explained that what Mr. Buhari said was that the bank should focus on the North-east because of the Boko Haram devastation; a stance now seconded by Mr. Shettima.
According to Mr. Shettima, the other governors at the July 2015 meeting were Rochas Okorocha of Imo, Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo, Adams Oshiomhole of Edo, and Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa.
Mr. Shettima said it was after the request that the World Bank, in 2016, in collaboration with the European Union and office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, organized a Recovery and Peace Building Assessment Report on the six states affected by the Boko Haram attacks in the northeast following which it was discovered that the Boko Haram had destroyed public and private infrastructure worth $9 billion in the North-east from which destructions in Borno alone accounted for $6 billion.
“The President and the Federal Government have very competent spokespersons, I don’t speak for the President or the FG,” the governor said.
However, the controversy affects my state because the discussions with the World Bank focus on rebuilding the North-east and everyone knows that when the issue of rebuilding the North-east is the subject, Borno naturally comes into perspective.
“The whole thing is in the open and we believe the objectives of the President will be actualised as go forward,” Mr. Shettima said.