Three Nigerian presidents that named roads after foreign leaders
However it is, historically, Buhari is not the first Nigeria president to honour presidents of other countries by naming roads after them. Former presidents – Goodluck Jonathan and Olusegun Obasanjo all did the same. And before them was head of state Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.
This week, critics reigned on President Muhammadu Buhari for naming a highway in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city after Niger Republic’s President Mahamadou Issoufou.
Buhari stated that Nigeria-Niger relations are based on a long common border and shared cultural and historical roots over the years.
“Relations between the two countries have, over the years, been very cordial and fraternal. There is a spirit of good neighbourliness between us,” Buhari said during Issoufou’s visit to Abuja on Tuesday.
“Nigeria’s borders with Niger have always been largely peaceful. There have been no serious border conflicts between the two countries.”
It was a day of exchange of pleasantries and honour. The Nigerien president also conferred Buhari with the highest national honour of the Niger Republic – Grand Croix Des Ordre National Du Niger.
Issoufou said the highest national award of his country was bestowed on Buhari for his “fraternity, vigour, patriotism and determination to move Africa forward, starting from the West Coast.”
This exchange of ‘national gifts’ between these presidents has elicited criticisms from some Nigerians about the motive behind his naming a road in Nigeria’s capital city after the president of the Niger Republic.
Some critics even argued that Buhari’s roots could be traced to the Niger Republic, citing that as the reason his administration is building the 284-kilometre Kano-Maradi railway.
Facts do not support these conspiracy theories.
Regardless of these conspiracies, former Nigeria leaders Babangida, Obasanjo and Jonathan all named projects after presidents from other countries.
Ibrahim Babangida – Soglo Way, Badagry
Babangida named a road after former Republic of Benin President Nicéphore Soglo in 1992 during his visit to Nigeria.
Soglo’s visit to Nigeria was a year after he succeeded Mathieu Kérékou as Republic of Benin president.
The road named after Soglo stretches from Badagry Town Hall to Agbalata Market.
Babangida resigned from the office one year after – in 1993.
Olusegun Obasanjo – Bill Clinton Avenue, Sauka, Abuja,
Bill Clinton was the first American president to visit Nigerian after Jimmy Carter did in 1978. His visit came a year after Nigeria returned to democracy.
To show his appreciation to Clinton, the then President Olusegun Obasanjo named the stretch of road leading to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Bill Clinton Avenue, Sauka, Abuja.
Obasanjo also gave Clinton three Nigerian names – one each from three ethnic groups – Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba.
Barely a month to the end of his tenure as Nigerian president, Jonathan named roads in Asokoro extension, Abuja, after former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Anan, late South African anti-apartheid activist Walter Sisulu and former President of Sudan, Gaafar al-Nimeiry.
Notable Nigerian politicians, sports figures and businessmen were also honoured in the naming spree.
Apart from the above, there is a litany of roads, streets and buildings in Nigeria named after African leaders.
There is a Nelson Mandela Road/Street in Calabar, Cross River State – named after former South African president.
Also inside the Unversity of Nigeria (UNN), Enugu Campus, UNEC, there is a Kwame Nkrumah Postgraduate Hostel.
Crown Estate in Lekki, Lagos State has streets named after Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta (former Kenyan prime minister and later president) and Patrice Lumumba (the first prime minister of the Republic of Congo).