Since President Muhammadu Buhari took the oath and assumed the presidential seat of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, 2015, several foreign trips to both continental and intercontinental nations has been recorded. More than every other leader Nigeria has seen since her independence, Buhari is the most publicized Nigerian president in terms of foreign trips.
As of the date of this publication, Buhari has taken 20 trips to 15 countries, including his most recent trip to Equatorial Guinea.
Questions have been asked and many conjectures made by Nigerians on social media of why the President has taken so many trips. Some actually punctuate several benefits Buhari’s trips add to Nigeria, while some see his trips as a contradiction to improving domestic affairs.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu pointed out some reasons why Buhari should embark on such trips, as highlighted below:
- Nigeria is faced with the legacy of corruption around the globe due to the involvement of past leaders in hiding government funds in many other countries. This belief and stigma about Nigeria needs to be removed from the minds of people through direct contact, as Buhari vowed to establish all around change and restoration.
- Nigeria has been denied of support such as arms purchases to battle Boko Haram due to improper channels and procedures in negotiating the armament deal by the previous administration. It’s also important for Nigeria, facing such terrorism, for the first time to learn from experienced nations during summits. This can only be effective if the number one citizen shows up.
- Investors and countries that have major trade relationships with Nigeria expect someone to steer their courage in striking deals with Nigeria. One such great achievement is the appreciation of crude oil price after Buhari’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
- United States President Barack Obama travels the world to establish partnerships and as the US serves as a model for Nigeria, the Republic also wants to enjoy such growth that could be enhanced by the joint corporation of other nations.
In spite of all these merits pointed out by both government and non-government voices, some disadvantages were also pointed. Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State led some individuals in pointing out some damages that Nigeria may possibly incur from President Buhari’s trips.
- Nigerians are groaning under the lack of reserved currency and funds spent on trips, approximately $1 million is spent for every trip. This accounts for about 30% of the federal reserve so far, this could be used for domestic affairs. Moreover, some people think Buhari is just going about showcasing himself and using public funds to actualize his dream of touching many lands around the globe during his lifetime.
- Fayose also pointed out that Nigeria’s problems are indigenous and that is what needs to be fixed before exposing ourselves to the public for further embarrassment.
- Many people considered President Buhari’s trip to most Arab nations as a form of “islamization”. He points to Buhari’s confirmation of joining the Islamic Coalition, a decision made without the consent of other members of his government.
- Lastly, many fault Buhari’s trips for the mess-up of the 2016 budget as he is not on the ground to focus on what is going on in the country and to be able to properly monitor budget passage as it continues to drag on in the Senate.