By Rasheed Sobowale
On November 10, 2019, photos of the Nigerian President and former head of state, Muhammadu Buhari meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, at the Lambeth Palace, London stormed the news and social media.
Majority of Nigerians based on their reactions on social media were puzzled at the relationship between the President being a Muslim and a prominent Christian (Anglican).
Anybody following the trend of Nigerian news will observe this is not the first time the president is meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby.
Who is Most Revd Justin Welby?
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Portal Welby is the most senior bishop in the Church of England. He studied History and Law at the University of Cambridge, England.
The Archbishop worked in the oil industry for eleven years. He was the treasurer of the oil exploration group Enterprise Oil plc in London in 1984. His primary role was in the management of the West African and North Sea oil projects according to Wikipedia.
This suggests the high probability of having met President Buhari at the time. Recall Buhari was the Head of State between 1983 and 1985 and Nigeria is the highest crude producer in the West African region, likewise in Africa continent.
Nigeria most corrupt country
The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron in a private parley with the Queen of England was reported to have said, “Nigeria and Afghanistan are possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury came out openly to defend Buhari’s integrity. According to him, “…this particular president [referring to Buhari] is actually not corrupt”. He also noted that Buhari is trying very hard to stamp out corruption in Nigeria.
President Buhari and Most Revd Justin Welby’s friendship
In a press statement released in 2017 during Buhari’s medical vacation which extended to 104 days, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina stated after the visit of Most Revd Justin Welby to Buhari at the Abuja House in London that the Archbishop and President Buhari are friends, who share deep respect for each other.
Buhari confirms friendship
After the Most Revd Justin Welby visited him (Buhari) during his second medical vacation in 2017, Buhari in his appreciatory message reportedly noted that; “Archbishop Welby, had always stood by him at critical times and wished him God’s continued grace in his spiritual duty of leading the Anglican Communion worldwide.”
Timeline and pictures of their meetings so far:
(1st Time) May 2016:
President Muhammadu Buhari during his visit to the United Kingdom to attend an anti-corruption conference paid the Archbishop a courtesy visit.
The Archbishop who received Nigeria’s President, Buhari at the Lambert Palace said there was hardly a day the church does not pray for Buhari and Nigeria.
(2nd Time) March 2017:
The Archbishop paid Buhari a visit during his first medical vacation in 2017.
(3rd Time) August 2017:
The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari during his second medical vacation received the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Abuja House in London.
(4th Time) November 2019:
President Muhammadu Buhari during his two weeks private visit to the United Kingdom made a stop at the Lambert Palace to pay a courtesy visit to Archbishop Welby.