Buhari’s US Trip: What Difference Will It Make? -By Ahmed Oluwasanjo

Filed under: National Issues |
Ahmed Oluwasanjo

Ahmed Oluwasanjo


Yes, Nigerians are not strangers to presidential foreign trips and they are also not impressed with these, so far. But despite this history, there is so much excitement out there over President Buhari’s visit to the US tomorrow. But will you blame Nigerians?

Ordinarily, the news of a foreign trip by a Nigerian government official should not elicit any excitement. To many Nigerians, these trips by presidents, governors, legislator, ministers or even ward councilors have always only enriched the travellers while impoverishing the man on the street only further. Since 1999, Nigerians have decried the incessant trips of elected government officials and the attendant frittering away of taxpayers’ money. Obasanjo, for instance, was said to have travelled out of the country 93 times within the first three years of his eight years in government alone.

Late President Yar’Adua, who was plagued with ill-health right from the beginning of his presidency, could not have trumped that record even if he wanted. However, where he fell short in this regard, his successor, President Goodluck Jonathan made up for it. For instance, it was widely reported in 2012 that he travelled 18 times within nine months that year.

Yes, Nigerians are not strangers to presidential foreign trips and they are also not impressed with these, so far. But despite this history, there is so much excitement out there over President Buhari’s visit to the US tomorrow. But will you blame Nigerians?

President Buhari assumed the mantle of leadership at a time Nigeria is at it’s lowest. It’s like the post-Abacha years all over again but this time brought to her knees by corruption and one of the most inept leadership ever witnessed in our time. Amid this overwhelming ruins however, President Buhari stands unwaveringly tall. Within just six weeks since he assumed the mantle of leadership, the distinctive signal is all over the place that the game is up for the demons holding this country’s head down. He has shown that even in the face of daunting, entrenched and self-inflicted national woes, leadership is, indeed, everything.
The import of this trip with the critical issues of Security/Terrorism, Power and Corruption atop the agenda is not lost on anyone. They are the exact areas the president had immediately commenced work on in earnest once he assumed office.

One step after another, he has begun the dismantling of vested interests in these areas with amazing results. Just last week, the management of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) said Nigeria had recorded a new electricity transmission peak of 4545 megawatts (MW) through its national network. According to a statement signed by its General Manager, Public Affairs, Seun Olagunju, the previous power transmission peak was on December 23, 2012 and it was 4517MW. Of course, every Nigerian knows that power generation and transmission have improved tremendously in the last two months with many consumers experiencing 18-20 hours of electricity daily. This is a far cry from the long days of uninterrupted darkness that characterised Jonathan’s administration.

The issue of corruption is also being tackled relentlessly. His first economic team meeting resulted in the setting up of a committee of four ‘wise men’, governors, to investigate NNPC remittances to the Federation account, a step everyone believes is long overdue if the country is to get rid of corruption in the petroleum industry. Probity and accountability are gradually but steadily easing their way into public administration. About two weeks ago, President Buhari ordered all revenue-generating agencies in the country, including the NNPC, FIRS, Customs and NPA, to close all Illegal Revenue Accounts and to also remit all funds generated to the Federation Account. It has long been identified that those illegal accounts are usually employed to siphon public funds.

As for the twin problems of insecurity and terrorism, the recent sacking of the service chiefs is surely the beginning of the end of the war against insurgency. With the redeployment of the headquarters to the heart of the war, Maiduguri, and the release of N4bn to enhance Nigeria’s war response, as well as the selective and intelligent deployment of soldiers and roadblocks, even the insurgents know that the game is up. Thus, the sporadic bombings and violence we witness today can be likened to the spasms of a dying bull. And to think he achieved all these without appointing ministers speaks volumes of the quality of intellect and mind that took over the leadership of the great country on May 29, 2015.

It is not surprising therefore, that the US government, with President Obama leading the pack, has rolled out its red carpet to host this leader who is restoring hope to Nigerians one day at a time. And to cap it all, President Buhari is making this very significant and historic trip with an 18-man team, a major departure from the days of a cortege of countless number of aides all hustling to get on the plane in the name of accompanying the president.

For instance, Daily Trust reported sometimes ago that former President Jonathan travelled to the United Nation’s Earth summit in Brazil 2012 with 116 others. But even with his lean 18-man team, Nigerians are optimistic that President Muhammadu Buhari will come back recharged and even more determined to take steps that will take this country to its deserved place in the sun.

Ahmed Oluwasanjo wrote from Abuja.