President Muhammadu Buhari has come under attack for his frequent foreign trips. It could be recalled that Buhari recently travelled to Russia in which a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Russian government and Nigeria for the resuscitation of Ajakuta Steel Company, building of rail lines and above all a pact on military weapons. Immediately Mr President returned from Russia, he left for Saudi Arabia. It is reported that the president’s trip to Saudi Arabia will benefit Nigeria in the area of petroleum industry and security. However, the barrage of criticisms that continued to trail Mr President’s foreign trips indicated either Nigerians have failed to see the immediate gains or benefits of his trips or assumed they were just a jamboree.
President Buhari, since the time he assumed office to date, has embarked on 78 foreign trips, spending 285 days in UK for medical attention. Is there anything wrong? According to international relations, no country can live in isolation. Countries need one another. They have to reach to their friends’ or nation states for assistance, business and collaboration. For instance, in the early life of Buhari’s first tenure, when Boko Haram was wreaking havoc on helpless Nigerians, he had to visit Chad and Cameroon. These neigbouring countries shared border with Nigeria. It is also believed some of their villages are hide outs for Boko Haram members. Through military collaboration, incidences of frequent attacks by the dreaded sects were checkmated.
Also, during his first term, President Buhari visited United Arab Emirates (Dubai) where a pact was signed on the forfeiture of assets believed to be proceeds of corruption from Nigeria. The critics may be right to say that the trips are frequent and diverting the attention of Mr President. And looking at the president’s recent warning against his ministers to stop frequent foreign trips, he should lead by example. However, it is a big mistake to think the president shall confine himself within Nigeria. The country has been battling with myriad of problems – from corruption, insecurity to worsening economy. These multi-faceted problems demand quick solutions. So, Mr President needs to travel and solicit for technical, financial and military assistance.
Ibrahim Mustapha, Pambegua, Kaduna