Buhari’s many travels: How not to govern from abroad

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Who is a criminal? What is the difference between an average criminal and a Nigerian?

According to Nigeria’s number one citizen, they are one and the same. This has thrown up a national debate, querying the governing style of President Muhammadu Buhari who seems to be more comfortable making strong statements about Nigeria and its citizens from outside the country.
In what may qualify for a record breaking move, the President after his inauguration on May 29, 2015, soon embarked on what has come to be known as his globetrotting activities, visiting four countries, namely Chad, Niger, Germany and South Africa in his first month in office.

If Nigerians thought the President’s foreign trips in the month of June 2015 was an isolated case, they were primed for gross disappointment, as President Buhari has shown no sign of slowing down.
As at the last count, President Buhari has also visited the United States July 2015; Benin Republic, August 2015; Ghana and France, September 2015; India, October 2015; Iran, France and United States, November 2015; South Africa and Benin Republic, December 2015; United Arab Emirate, Kenya, Ethiopia, France and United Kingdom in the less than two months of 2016.

While it is important for the country to continue to play its part and be active globally, the way and manner the President is handling this is beginning to make Nigerians apprehensive. Aside former President Olusegun Obasanjo, no Nigerian leader has committed so much time and resources to frequent foreign trips like President Buhari.
While it is important for the country to continue to play its part and be active globally, the way and manner the President is handling this is beginning to make Nigerians apprehensive.

Aside former President Olusegun Obasanjo, no Nigerian leader has committed so much time and resources to frequent foreign trips like President Buhari.
Reacting to the President’s foreign trips, vocal governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose, knocked the President, alleging that a huge amount of the nation’s resources is being spent on these trips.

In his reasoning, it was better the President stayed back in the country to solve the many problems facing it, adding that most of the trips were unnecessary.
“Conservatively, about $1 million goes into every of the foreign trips and the way the President is going, foreign trips alone might gulp 20 percent of the Federal Government budget and that will be disastrous for the dwindling economy of the country.
“It is even more worrisome that while the economy is already in shambles and insecurity pervades the land with Boko Haram burning Nigerians, including children alive in the North East, our President is busy globetrotting.
He noted that “Out of his eight months as President of Nigeria, two months have been spent outside the country, and one wonders how a country like Nigeria can progress with its president spending the better part of his time abroad.

“Mr President is therefore advised to focus more on governing Nigeria from home because foreign countries won’t solve our problems for us. He should fulfill his promise of leading the fight against Boko Haram from the front. Most importantly, the President should pay more attention to the ailing economy of the country while he carries on with genuine fight against corruption.”

Conservatively, about $1 million goes into every of the foreign trips and the way the President is going, foreign trips alone might gulp 20 percent of the Federal Government budget and that will be disastrous for the dwindling economy of the country.
With the huge resources that are being committed to the foreign trips of the President and his entourage, what has it benefitted Nigerians? Can Nigeria confidently say it has benefitted, or is benefitting from the President’s trips abroad, to justify the resources committed to the journeys?

For many, there is nothing yet on ground to show that the country has benefitted or is benefitting. For many, the trips are nothing but waste of resources and the time the president should have used in governing the nation, while many others, feel that instead of benefits, the nation’s reputation and that of its people is constantly being damaged.
It is instructive to note that President Muhammadu Buhari has either consciously or otherwise chosen to make his most important and controversial statements abroad. Every trip of the President comes with its own controversial statement that Nigerians believe are damaging their reputation while de-marketing the country and its economy.
The President’s fixation on the fight against corruption, though commendable, has provided the greatest avenue for damaging statements from him while abroad.

The President has recently branded every Nigerian as corrupt and a thief, who by implication, foreigners should be wary of in carrying out transactions with.
President Buhari also, in the United Kingdom, stirred more controversy when he described Nigerians as criminally minded people. Not a few Nigerians were shocked by the President’s latest goof, wondering why a president who should be the country’s number one image maker is the one doing the greatest damage.
This notwithstanding, the Presidencybelieves the foreign trips are critical to the implementation of the administration’s key policies.

It is instructive to note that President Muhammadu Buhari has either consciously or otherwise chosen to make his most important and controversial statements from abroad. Every trip of the President comes with its own controversial statement that Nigerians believe are damaging their reputation while de-marketing the country and its economy.
Nigeria’s Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, in a recent statement, said the trips have started yielding fruits in terms of turning the tide in the fight against the insurgents who have been most active in the North-east, attracting investments in the range of billions of dollars, and securing global support for the administration’s anti-corruption fight.

According to Mohammed, “He was in Germany at the invitation of the G7 to solicit support from the Industrialized nations for the war against terrorism. No one who has witnessed the killings and maiming in the past seven years by Boko Haram will call such trips frivolous. After all, the security and welfare of the citizens are the reason for the existence of any government.

”The President’s visit to South Africa was to attend the regular summit of the African Union; the trip to Ghana was aimed at fostering better relations with a brotherly country; the trip to India was for the India-Africa summit that provided the opportunity to explore ways of enhancing Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) from Indian investors, while the trip to Iran was to attend the forum of Gas Exporting Countries, a veritable platform for discussing how to better harness Nigeria’s abundant gas resources for industrial/domestic consumption and export, at a time of dwindling oil prices.

”The President also travelled to Malta to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, from where he travelled to Paris for the UN Conference on Climate Change. The President’s second trip to South Africa since assuming office is for the China-Africa forum. On the few occasions that the President has embarked on a State Visit, he has tied that to an agenda that will further the quest for support for the war against terror and the efforts to enhance FDIs, thus stimulating economic growth and creating jobs.”
Nigerians are yet to see or feel the impact and are beginning to object to being governed from abroad, or being tagged criminals from abroad, for that matter.

”President Buhari is well respected on the global stage for his high integrity, his transparency, his patriotism and his purposeful leadership. It is important to leverage this respect in such a way that Nigeria can become a major player, either in the realms of economy or global diplomacy,” the Minister said.

However, many Nigerians, including Fayose are of the view that a good number of the trips embarked upon by Buhari could be delegated to the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, or a minister, giving the president more time, energy and resources to dedicate to solving the many problems plaguing the nation.

As to Mohammed’s claim that the trips have attracted help from some of the visited countries in the fight against terrorism, especially in the decimation of the Boko Haram group, this may not be totally true, as the Senator representing Borno Central, Senator Baba Kaka Garbai, who should know, put a lie to the claim.
Senator Garbai said recently that claims by the Federal Government that terror group no longer controls any part of Nigerian territory and that they have been “technically defeated”, was a big lie.

The federal legislator while on a visit to Dalori, after an attack by Boko Haram in which at least 65 people were killed, said the insurgent group still has control of 50 percent of Borno State.

According to him, the truth about the accomplishment of the military in Borno State has never truly been said as the Boko Haram and the Nigerian nation are presently administering about the same territories in the state.
But the truth is; no matter how frantically the presidency and Mohammed continue to justify the president’s many trips abroad as being purposeful and targeted at specific goals, Nigerians are yet to see or feel the impact and are beginning to object to being governed from abroad, or being tagged criminals from abroad, for that matter.

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