As Nigeria’s diplomacy blossoms
On assumption of office, the president undertook some foreign trips both within and outside Africa to re-establish Nigeria’s position in the global arena and solicit support for Nigeria and Africa. Of course, Nigeria as the most populous black nation on earth is expected to play a leading role in global affairs.
During the trips, he sought the support and understanding of world leaders for the three planks on which his administration came into office. They are fight against corruption, security and economy. The direct result of these foreign trips include the commitment of various countries to assisting in the repatriation of stolen funds, war against terrorism and charting a new direction for the country’s economy.
It is a well-known fact that Africa is the centrepiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy. Mr. President ensured that Nigeria’s foreign policy derives from his domestic objectives already encapsulated above.
In realisation of the need to secure Nigeria, and by extension the entire West African sub-region, especially in those countries where Boko Haram had been carrying out attacks, President Buhari quickly embarked on shuttle diplomatic trips to Niger, Chad, Cameroun and Benin Republic.
He used the opportunities of those trips to galvanise their support in combating the menace of Boko Haram terrorists. Having rallied them, a multi-national joint task force was established and Nigeria committed funds towards facilitating their operations.
So far as the result of Mr. President’s efforts, the MNJTF along with the Nigerian Armed Forces have successfully degraded the terrorists. Presently they are unable to occupy territories or roam about maiming and killing people and destroying communities.
In the global arena, President Buhari has forcefully pushed the agenda for Nigeria’s recognition. At the United Nations, he threw Nigeria’s support for a Palestine State; while in his address at the European Union Parliament he successfully assailed the august body with the great potentials inherent in our country. He also used the opportunity to inform the global community that democracy has come to stay in Nigeria.
Mr. President has also continued in his global shuttle diplomacy with a trip to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kenya and China. During the trips, several bilateral agreements aimed at advancing Nigeria’s progress were signed. For example, a mutual legal agreement was signed between Nigeria and UAE on repatriation of looted funds, transfer of prisoners among others. In Saudi Arabia, he met with the Saudi King and canvassed the need for the kingdom to support OPEC’s policy on reducing oil output to the international market as a way of improving and stabilising prices.
Mr. President also undertook a state visit to China and the inherent multi-dimensional benefits are beginning to manifest.
Generally speaking, it can be said that with President Muhammadu Buhari in the saddle, our foreign policy is being driven by his vision for a stable economy, curbing corruption, combating terrorism, and all these are being pursued within the context of Africa as the centrepiece of Nigeria’s policy.
In order to promote improved bilateral relations between Nigeria and China, President Muhammadu Buhari embarked on a four-day diplomatic cum business trip to China on April10, 2016. The trip which included a high-level delegation was also aimed at securing the support of the Chinese government for Nigeria’s development. During the trip several bilateral agreements were signed in different sectors. Some of the accrued benefits include, agreements that were signed on various areas including solid minerals, power, transportation (railway and road infrastructure), housing sector, agriculture and establishment of a comprehensive farm and downstream industrial park in Kogi State.
Other benefits that accrued from the trip included over $6 billion in investments by the Chinese. The President also used the occasion of the visit to facilitate business deals between Nigerian business people and their Chinese counterparts. An agreement was also reached on the use of Chinese Yuan as a medium of exchange for businesses between China and Nigeria.
At the Anti-Corruption summit which held in London on May 11, 2016 President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the forum and identified corruption as “one of the greatest enemies of our time”. He noted that corruption was central to the poverty ravaging people in Nigeria and other parts of the world. He, therefore, urged the international community to brace up to the challenge of tackling corruption head-on and to help repatriate Nigeria’s looted funds.
It is indeed remarkable that at the Anti-Corruption Summit London countries pledged to set up public registers of company ownership in a collective effort to stop laundering the proceeds of corruption around the world. Nigeria will be a direct beneficiary of this new approach and President Buhari pledged to inaugurate such public registers of true company ownership.
Again it is a thing of joy that President Buhari has been acknowledged by world leaders as foremost Africa’s vibrant advocate of a corruption-free society. Some of the leaders who have recognised his efforts in this regard include Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, UK Minister for International Development Nick Hurd and UNODC Executive Secretary Yuru Fedotov.
On July 17, 2016 President Muhammadu Buhari was represented by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the 27th Ordinary Session of African Union (AU) from July 16 to 18 in Kigali, Rwanda. The Summit provided an opportunity for critical appraisal of the 20 billion dollar Nigeria-Algeria trans-Saharan gas pipeline project under the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).
The project when completed would transport about 30 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Warri through Niger Republic to Algeria. The Summit also focused on the full integration of the continent through the establishment of free trade area and the African Union passport.
The President also hosted a regional security summit which had such World and West African regional leaders like France, Mr. Francois Hollande, and British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond, US Under Secretary of Secretary of State, Presidents of Chad, Cameroun, Gabon, Benin Republic, Niger, and Ghana in attendance. The summit fashioned out a road map for the fight against insurgency in the Lake Chad region and drew the attention of the international community to the sorry state of things in the North East as a result of Boko Haram attacks.
President Muhammadu Buhari in a determined bid to reposition Nigeria in the global arena also visited Nairobi Kenya to attend the 6th Tokyo International Conference for Africa’s development.
On the whole it can be said that his leadership style has spurred significant worldwide interest in Nigeria.
• Enekwechi, Journalist, writes from Abuja