ALL WHO WANDER ARE NOT LOST

Nigeria 2017 | DIPLOMACY | FOCUS: BUHARI’S STATE VISITS

The president's frequent trips have sparked engagement abroad as well as criticism at home.

On March 28, 2015 Muhammadu Buhari came into power in Nigeria as the head of state. In his efforts to fight corruption and improve the image of the country abroad he has traveled extensively to the point of sparking criticism in the local press. Newspapers wrote that the federal government was incurring exorbitant costs due to Buhari's foreign trips. The press has noted this is the worse conceivable time to do so as government revenues have fallen and cuts have been recommended for all state entities in light of what has been called the worst economic crisis in the country in 25 years.

According to the local media, Buhari spent more than NGN5 billion on foreign trips in the first 12 months of his tenure. He traveled extensively within Africa to neighboring countries such as Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Benin, and others such as Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, and South Africa. In Europe he went to France, Germany, and Malta and visited Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar in the Middle East. Within the Asian continent he visited India and China and has also gone to the US several times.

He visited Benin to discuss mutual collaboration against the Boko Haram insurgency. Historically China has also been a big investor in Africa. During the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in Johannesburg attended by Buhari, President Xi Jinping mentioned that China plans to invest USD60 billion in Africa over three years. Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, will definitely benefit from that. Additionally, the Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria, Zhao Ling Xiang, announced in March 2016 that China would buy more crude oil from Nigeria.

In the Middle East Buhari signed several agreements to not only foster better economic relationships and promote trade, but also fight corruption. In Qatar he signed a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) to pave the way for direct flights between Nigeria and Qatar and in the UAE he signed a bilateral agreement to ensure the repatriation of funds hidden in Dubai. Though the results of these visits may be difficult to measure, Nigeria has definitely been on everyone's lips.