President Muhammadu Buhari in his inauguration address promised to cooperate with other nations to combat terrorism and other crimes. “I … wish to assure the wider international community of our readiness to cooperate and help to combat threats of cross-border terrorism, sea piracy, refugees and boat people, financial crime, cyber crime, climate change, the spread of communicable diseases and other challenges of the 21st century,’’ he had said.
Buhari highlighted the fight against terrorism, war against corruption and economic development as cardinal objectives of his administration. The import, therefore, is that traveling abroad will give the president opportunity to seek for foreign collaboration in achieving his objectives. Aanalysts opine that no country can live in isolation in this new world order.
So far, the president has traveled to over 22 countries since May 29, 2015 till date. Countries visited include United States, South Africa, Germany, Chad, Niger, UAE, Qatar, Saudi- Arabia, Britain, Iran, India, France, Ghana and Benin Republic among others.
Many Nigerians have criticized Buhari for wasting resources on foreign trips instead of staying at home to revamp the economy .
However, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said Buhari’s frequent trips abroad, especially to the oil producing nations, became imperative because of the urgent need to rally support for the stability of the global oil prices and also to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country. He stressed that the president has been spending countless times outside the country lobbying and rallying foreign leaders to find solution to the crash in oil prices.
Zuhari during his visit to United States and G7 summit in Germany solicited for support in the ongoing war against terrorism and corruption. Although, the US refused to sell arms to Nigeria the two countries are sharing intelligence which is aiding the fight against Boko Haram in the North East of Nigeria. President Barack Obama also pledged to render necessary assistance to Buhari’s administration to fight corruption effectively.
Nigeria and Qatar signed Bilateral Air Services Agreement(BASA) to pave way for direct flights between major cities of both countries. The agreement on bilateral air service will promote trade, commerce and tourism between the two countries just as Nigeria has also commenced discussions on partnerships towards establishing a national airline for Nigeria. The agreement on the avoidance of double taxation which had been negotiated since February 2015 will no doubt bring in more investments and businesses between Qatar and Nigeria.
In the United Arab Emirates, Buhari signed an agreement to promote investments and business dealings amongst the two countries. The bilateral agreement would also enable the country to extradite or transfer sentenced persons. According to findings, many people currently facing corruption charges in Nigeria have huge investment, especially in real estate sector in UAE. With this bilateral agreement, the Federal Government can now liaise with the UAE government to seize property traced to corrupt Nigerians.
But even with all these, the APC-led federal government had received attacks for joining the Islamic Coalition Against Terrorism put together by Saudi Arabia. Political analysts blame Buhari for joining the coalition, noting that Nigeria is not Islamic state like other countries in the group. This move by Buhari has further raised dust over perceived plans to islamise Nigeria.
But a critical appraisal of Buhari’s foreign trips show that they were not for jamboree but aimed at bringing prosperity to Nigeria in this trying time. However, good intentions without the right strategy might not yield the desired result. Therefore, Buhari must focus on economic diplomacy by attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) to create employment and generate revenue for government.
The Federal Government must show Nigerians tangible results of these foreign trips to justifyTHE over N200billion tax payer’s money said to have been already spent on the trips.