OGUNSANWO: Buhari’s Trips Are In Order
IF we are talking about the president’s trips to Iran, Malta and France, these are necessary events he needed to attend. Frankly, they are in order. There is really nothing going on at home that his ministers and other government functionaries cannot handle.
But questions have been raised about the importance of some of these international organisations to Nigeria’s interest. How relevant do you consider, for example, the Commonwealth of Nations to Nigeria’s aspirations?
You would recall that in 1976, the Adedeji Task Force Committee on Foreign Policy recommended Nigeria’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth, but the Olusegun Obasanjo-led military regime said no. However, the association’s vote was mobilised in 1977 to help Nigeria defeat Republic of Niger at the UN General Assembly for the non-permanent seat on the Security Council. In November 1995, military Head of State, General Sani Abacha, approved his minister’s suggestion from New Zealand that Nigeria should withdraw from the Commonwealth. Abacha later cancelled the approval within 30 minutes and so the minister did not act.
The truth is that there is no popular demand in the country at anytime for us to be out of the association. Besides, the CHOGM meets once in four years and the argument will be that once in four years is not too much for President Buhari to attend. He may not even have a second term you know.
Apart from political patronage, and perhaps international prestige, do you think the association is useful security wise and economically?
The Nigerian elite will not agree with you on this and I am not sure I do. When you talk about the permanent seat in the UN Security Council is it anything more than prestige since it confers only negative power? Some of these things are inter-related and one issue often lead to another. If you know what you are doing, you can use one platform to achieve a number of other items crucial to your national interests.
People often want to see concrete benefits addressing their daily lives. What can you say in this regard sir?
The President has a team in place that he believes can competently tackle the situation on ground on a day-to-day basis. He publicly declared his own competence to be in the areas of security, corruption bashing and oil and gas. Let his team handle the rest as the ministers have promised to do.
Beside climate change related issues, nations use opportunity to cement other pressing matters at the Paris conference. What are your expectations from these meetings?
The reports from Paris indicate that other negotiations are taking place during numerous meetings already arranged before now and some on the basis of the need to take advantage of the presence of so many leaders. The government is canvassing for increased Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). In 2014, under former President Goodluck Jonathan, 11bn dollars came in as investment. The current administration wants to double that.
As we speak, another big event, in London, begins with the coming together of Investors interested in African countries. I am sure Nigeria is already there. There are no alternatives to these meetings.