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Chukwudi Enekwechi: Much Ado About Buhari’s Foreign Trips



By Chukwudi Enekwechi

It beats one’s imagination that some cynics will in a bid to criticise the Buhari administration dwell on the needless haranguing of the number one citizen for embarking on foreign trips. Expectedly, such criticisms come from the quarters of those who for lack of imagination and creativity plunged Nigeria into the level of a pariah nation.

Now, the new administration under President Muhammadu Buhari has chosen to reintegrate Nigeria into the mainstream of global politics, yet the cynics would not let up.

Perhaps in a bid to drive home the point, Nigerians need to be informed that President Buhari was not elected to be a domestic President only. It is unimaginable that our President will remain at home when global leaders are meeting at various world capitals to decide on issues that affect Nigeria and other countries.

One is not also oblivious of the fact that we have a foreign affairs minister who ought to embark on some trips on behalf of Mr. President, yet international protocols in some instances demand the physical presence of a country’s leader. This is where some critics are missing the point despite strident efforts by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu to explain the reasons at every point in time.

It appears some unpatriotic elements are bent on imputing wrong motives for Mr. President’s foreign trips. It is on this note that we consider it expedient to appeal to the patriotic sense of judgement of all Nigerians in appreciating the need for Mr. President to travel abroad as at when necessary. For example, the recent trips to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar come with numerous benefits to the country.

Egypt is a country notable for their expertise in agriculture, medicine, tourism and technology. Besides, Nigeria as the giant of Africa stands a good chance to develop by cementing bilateral ties with such an important country. Mr. President’s trip to Egypt is however related to the Africa Business Roundtable which has the capacity to attract foreign direct investments and equally boost Nigeria’s economy in the long run.

Saudi Arabia with a treasury overflowing with funds estimated at over $900 Billion can indeed offer the necessary assistance to extricate Nigeria from the stranglehold of paucity of dollars arising from the global oil glut.

I have no doubt in mind my that Mr. President’s foreign trips will add altruistic value to Nigeria as a country, as the immediate gain is their potential to return the country to her prominent position as a responsible member of the international Community.

There is no doubt that the lack lustre approach to governance of the past administration relegated us to a pariah nation. With President Muhammadu Buhari in the saddle, we are once again regaining our prestige as a country. This is aptly demonstrated in the effusive welcome of Nigeria once again to its notable role as the giant of Africa. From America, Italy, Germany, Liberia, Benin Republic, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, Iran and numerous other countries Nigeria is being reckoned with and appreciated on account of the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to reposition the country. Therefore all what is required is for all and sundry is to lend their support to the Buhari administration to continue in their set goal of providing good leadership to Nigerians.

As a people we must realise that even the simple act of fighting corruption by the Buhari administration has restored confidence in Nigeria. Today, foreign investors have started coming into the country in droves knowing full well that the investment climate is being rid of corruption as it impedes business and development generally.

This milestone which is central to rejuvenating our comatose economy is being achieved as a result of the foreign trips already undertaken by Mr. President. Such trips afford him the opportunity to relate directly with potential foreign investors, who are reassured that the bottlenecks that hitherto impeded their investments are gradually being removed.

It is therefore necessary to submit at this point that President Muhammadu Buhari is not a local or domestic President. In other words, he was not elected or expected to hide in a closet while global leaders are busy charting a way forward for all countries.

Perhaps, there are those Nigerians who fail to appreciate that as the most populous black nation on earth and fastest growing in economy in Africa, that Nigeria owes it an obligation to provide leadership and must continue to play a vital role in international affairs.

Let’s face it; the absence of Mr. President for few days does not in any way create a vacuum in governance, as all the officials of state remain to discharge their assigned responsibilities. Even when Mr. President is outside the country, he is hands on with the day to day running of the country. Added to this is that the world is now a global community considering the impact of communication technology.

Rather than pick holes in the manner Mr. President travels, we ought to appreciate that the trips are in the interest of the country, and not for the personal interest of the President. Having reposed confidence in him by entrusting him with our mandate, the president himself has dedicated his life to the service of all Nigerians.

He will never abdicate this trust we have reposed in him. As a man of character and integrity he sees the whole Nigeria as his constituency, and has at all material times acted in the best interest of the country. As a country we cannot function in isolation, but must remain a player in the global arena like other well respected countries. We are Nigeria, and not Benin Republic, Togo, Chad or Niger and what this implies is that we have to be in the forefront of countries charting the direction in a new world order.

Presently, we are living in a world being redefined by nuclear threats, terrorism, oil glut and economic downturns, and this presupposes that as a leader in Africa we cannot be found wanting. We must continue to reassert ourselves as a country to be reckoned with, and that deserves respect. Our role and participation in world affairs will by extension attract requisite respect to the African continent and the black man as a whole.
Simply said, this cannot be achieved when the president chooses to hibernate in Aso Villa while important decisions on the way forward are being taken in some far away country. It is expected that as patriotic people we should applaud the significant progress being made in the anti-graft war, the degradation of Boko Haram, and diversification of the economy which has the potential to strengthen the economy against the vagaries of global oil glut.

Until we begin to appreciate these efforts, and give the President and his team benefit of doubt, perhaps it can be assumed that we are denying him due credit, and this approach kills morale. Change is not a one year race and sometimes takes decades to realise. Yes, Nigerians are entitled to hold their leaders accountable, but it is instructive to note that the Buhari administration is already laying the necessary foundation for a sustainable progress and development of the country.

We must realise that until corruption, indiscipline and insecurity are eliminated in the country, the much-desired change will continue to elude us. Therefore, having taken the gauntlet to fight these ills, which as we all know have been hampering our growth as a nation, it behoves all patriotic and well-meaning people to give Mr. President necessary support and encouragement.

Nigerians should therefore disregard the negative propaganda of those whose corrupt tendencies the Buhari administration seeks to curtail. In his determined effort to fight against sleaze in public office there is bound to be reactions, or how else can we explain the needless haranguing of Mr. President for embarking on official trips abroad? Do we then isolate ourselves from the global community? This obviously cannot happen, and will be counterproductive for Nigeria to be found missing at important international fora or meetings that require the attendance of every nation’s number one citizen. Such critics should just spare the nation the needless harassment of being sought for at the global level when the need arises.


Chukwudi Enekwechi, Journalist and Politician, writes from Abuja
[email protected]


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