Buhari’s US Visit: What Nigeria Stands to Gain – Analysts

DESPITE disparate political tendencies in Nigeria, there is a convergence of opinion that President Buhari’s visit to the United States on the invitation by President Obama, has re-invested international confidence in the country’s social, economic and political strivings.
Analysts believe that Buhari’s integrity, great courage to dare the norm,
alter systemic ineptitude and sincerity of intentions to battle corruption have re-assured the US business and political establishment, and Europe that Nigeria is Africa’s most viable investor’s destination.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to the United States is still the main issue among Nigerians, who argue that there is the need to consolidate on the areas of cooperation including the legal framework on recovery of stolen funds.
The recent President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to the United States is significant in many aspects, not only for Nigeria and the US in particular but the international community in general.
On the part of Nigeria, beyond focus on security, war against terrorism as well as trade and economic relations, it is expected that the far reaching outcome of the visit will result in the strengthening of the US’ long lasting friendship with Nigeria.
The first point to note is that the visit was apparently in honour of President Barrack Obama’s invitation on the strength of our president’s local and international goodwill. Thus international goodwill is as a result of the president’s acclaimed integrity, discipline and incorruptibility.
This goodwill largely accounted for the way Buhari and his entourage were accommodated in Blair’s House, which serves as a site for “American Diplomacy” during the visit. This shows the esteem with which Buhari is held on account of this goodwill considering the fact that previous visiting Nigerian leaders never had such luxury treatment.
One important lesson arising from this privilege is that our president must never allow this uncommon international goodwill to be squandered. The challenge is how to deploy this international goodwill in building a more strategic relationship with the US to meet our developmental aspirations. One way of retaining this important goodwill is to keep to promises and commitments made by the Nigerian delegation during the visit. Our commitments on security, war against terrorism, war against corruption as well as trade and economic relations must be respected. Two of these areas particularly war on terrorism and corruption cannot be treated with kid gloves.
It is important to note that the international community treats issues relating to terrorism and corruption with priorities as they are conceived as crimes against humanity outside the domain and sovereignty of states. In other words, no state can use the excuse of state sovereignty to evade its international obligations to curtail terrorism and forestall corrupt practices.
On terrorism, it is important in deploying counter terrorism measures to be guided by respect for international rules of engagement, international law, international humanitarian law, international refugee law and international human rights law.
With respect to fight against corruption, it is important to lead by example, curtail impunity, indiscipline, breaches of rule of law and constitutionalism and also deploy resources and mechanisms in building enduring systems, institutions, societal traditions, ethical and moral values and strengthening personal behaviours. These require proactive, preventive and reactive measures. We must also keep our future elections credible, free, fair and peaceful if we are to continue to retain this international goodwill.
The challenge therefore is deploying this current international goodwill enjoyed by the current leadership in building more strategic relationships not only with the US but with the rest of the international community to meet our developmental aspirations. Indeed future achievements and successes of this administration may well depend on the extent it is able to retain and consolidate on the strength of this goodwill.
Buhari’s visit to the US is also significant coming as it were before the administration settles down to serious governance. This is because being a new administration, the need for external support to prosecute its policies is fundamental as Nigeria takes on both economic and security crisis currently ravaging the land.
Indeed international partners have a rare opportunity to engage Nigeria on a new beginning given the fact that ministers are yet to be appointed and key policies are still being worked out. There are also diplomatic consequences of the visit. It has the prospect of strengthening diplomatic relations of both countries. Obama has never visited Nigeria in his almost eight-year-tenure. This is not too good for the image of Nigeria as the greatest black African Nation. Buhari’s visit may have provided a convenient platform for Obama to reciprocate the gesture by undertaking a visit to Nigeria in no distant future.
It is also important to review and retool Nigerian’s diplomatic objectives to emphasise service to the Nigerian state by diplomatic officials as opposed to service of the whips and caprices of the Nigerian ruling elite. A strong strategy to encourage skilled Nigerians deploying their expertise in the US to return to Nigeria to develop our economy should be vigorously pursued.
Nigeria must be clear on what its needs and priorities are arising from the visit of our president to the US. Undoubtedly, Nigeria requires military support to combat terrorism but more importantly, training, equipment and intelligence exchange are what Nigeria actually needs more critically at this period in time.
Nigeria also requires assistance in retrieving stolen wealth starched in some American commercial banks or covert agencies. There are strong indications and suggestions that some of these loots have been deployed in the purchase of expensive and expansive estate in Washington D.C. and its environs particularly the State of Maryland. Sonala Olumhense, a respected columnist of the Guardian on Sunday alluded to this discovery in his article last Sunday in The Guardian. This is a vital lead that the Nigerian authorities may wish to follow up.
There may be need to put in place some form of international agreement or memorandum of understanding with the US on how some of these loot can be traced and recovered for the benefit of the Nigerian state. Currently, Nigeria’s economy bleeds and much of these looted funds if recovered will assist Nigeria’s economic recovery.
Nigeria currently grapples with challenges on security, economics, institutions and development leading to lower levels of living and productivity, lower levels of human capital, higher levels of inequality and absolute poverty, higher population growth rates, greater social fractionalisation, larger rural populations but rapid rural to urban migration, lower levels of industrialisation and manufactured exports, underdeveloped financial and other markets and high levels of corruption and impunity amongst others.
These are inspite of our physical and human resource endowments. The expectation is that the president’s latest visit to the US will mark a good beginning for the realisation of Nigerian’s vast potential. As noted by Obama, Buhari came into the office with a reputation of integrity and a clear agenda on corruption and Boko Haram insurgency including fixing the economy and infrastructure. If the president succeeds on these fundamentals, it is only then that his visit to the US can be said to be meaningful to Nigerians.

Nigerian Observer

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