Buhari’s US trip, blessing or curse?

People often wonder how presidential visits benefit citizens and why it should then matter regarding the day to day lives of people. True, President Muhammadu Buhari’s trip to the United States recently is one of those visits that has attracted intense scrutiny. This in part is due to the political climate in the country at the moment; on the other hand, it could also be as a result of the President’s alleged gaffe in London previously during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London.
All the same, this time the President’s visit for bilateral meeting with America’s President Donald Trump was well timed. It came at  a time of serious national challenge occasioned by severe security challenges. The communal altercations led by herdsmen versus farmers, the bandits of Zamfara and of course remnants of Boko Haram have ensured a very nervy country at best. But the scares are deep and it is important the president could discuss security assistance with Mr. Trump. Of course, this is the first time a sub Saharan African leader will be received by the American president in the White House.
We wait to get the full benefits of the bilateral agreements or discussions. Already words have it that $500 million stolen funds have been earmarked to be repatriated. This fund was stolen from Nigeria’s coffers and held up in American banks. It is heart warming to hear the turn of events to the better. Also, there are reports of further military or security assistance. This is in the area of training, hardware and ammunitions. There’s also the matter of sharing intelligence gathering. We equally heard of investments in critical sectors like railways as General Electric signed contract for the revamping of our standard gauge system going forward.
Since Trump came to power, he prioritized bilateral engagements rather than multilateralism. He prefers to relate with countries and sign deals rather than a group of countries. And we are happy that from fillers concerning the outcome of the trip, President Buhari did very well. What is now paramount is the utility of this visit. Everything must be made to ensure that America truly remove trade barriers. Trade policy should be mutually beneficial. The Nigerian government  must benefit from this and the president could have impressed it on his host to find a way to expand the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act. Nevertheless, the highlighted areas of cooperation like agricultural equipment, food preservation, etc are welcome. Agriculture is a huge industry that requires its subsets to be better harnessed.
So if everything is followed through, Nigerians stand to benefit from this American visit. But we can no longer continue to be a beggar nation. There are potentials here. And there are trained personnel and machinery to improve our lives. We have raw materials in various sectors. We just need to put faith in ourselves so that we can solve mundane problems. However, no country is an island. We need each other. It is even worse now. With technology and growth of metropols, reason to meet in person becomes more depressing. For those that do not fancy the trip, they must know that there is nothing too much to give to maintain good neighborliness with countries.
With the praises heaped on Buhari by Trump as regards his integrity and fight against corruption, it is evident that nothing is hidden under the sun. No matter what we do and call it internal affairs, foreign spies are on the prowl. We will do better to tidy up our affairs. The way foreigners poke their noses in our affairs is amazing. But what can we do when we have little choice. Our politicians should equally be ready to make sacrifices to build a new and better society.
Going forward, Nigeria should develop a more robust foreign policy that must define our international relations. We cannot and should not appear weak in relating with super powers. It’s a partnership. Everyone needs the other. Nigeria should focus on her core competencies and highlight trade, rather than assistance. Trade is the sole business. So we must have what to trade with. We must also ensure we maintain integrity in our dealings. Sometimes, integrity is all that matters. Our foreign affairs minister should equally be more visible. Today, he’s not and its worrying. A country of highly diversed  people coupled with our numbers should have a strong voice in the comity of nations.

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