President Muhammadu Buhari’s office on Friday denied that he asked the World Bank to focus on Northern Nigeria.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim told journalists on Thursday in Washington that President Buhari had asked the bank to focus on the Northern region of Nigeria when they first met.

But Buhari’s media handlers have come out to deny that that was Buhari’s intention in his conversation with the World Bank boss.

Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina said there had been a “deliberate twisting” of the president’s words to make it sound like he wanted to give the north an unfair advantage over other regions.

“President Buhari has a pan-Nigerian mandate, and he will discharge his duties and responsibilities in like manner,” Adesina said in an emailed statement.

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“Any part of the country that requires special attention would receive it,” said Adesina.

The presidency said Buhari had made the comments to the World Bank president in July 2015 when the lender pledged financial support for Nigeria.

Buhari’s comment has drawn massive criticism in the local media.

Even some opposition party figures such as Femi Fani-Kayode, Nigeria’s former aviation minister has expressed outrage at the comments.

“Why am I not surprised? After all, as far as @MBuhari is concerned southern Nigerians and Middle Belters are nothing but low-lifes, vassals and slaves,” he posted on his Twitter feed.

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