President Muhammadu Buhari has, within the last two months, embarked on over seven foreign trips. At the beginning of the Buhari-led administration in 2015, his frequent foreign trips attracted torrents of negative remarks from opposition parties. Over the years, billions of naira have been reportedly spent to finance the trips of the president.
Asides from the allegations of corruption against his government, a major topical point of reference among many Nigerians is the President’s frequent foreign trips, and how it has affected the nation’s purse when compared to the economic reality of the country. This has attracted the scrutiny of both adversaries and supporters of President Buhari from across the country, and perhaps even beyond.
Often, the outcry that follows the international trips is what forces the presidency to justify it. Relentlessly, the presidency hinges on the importance of Buhari’s numerous trips to the development of the country. His media team has profusely defended his trips saying his journeys yield fruitful results for the country’s economy.
In the 2022 budget, a whooping N2.3 billion was set aside for the presidential travels: N775.6 million for local trips and double of it to the tune of N1.5 billion for international journeys.
Ignoring the anger and clamour caused by the President’s numerous foreign trips, President Buhari has continued to utilise every opportunity to fly abroad.
Yesterday, the president jetted out on a two-day state visit to Madrid, the capital city of Spain. His trip was announced by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, who said the importance of the visit to Marid was for him (Buhari) to meet with his counterpart in the Spanish country, Pedro Sanchez and the Head of State of the Spanish nation, King Felipe VI.
According to Adesina, “during his engagements with both leaders, the Nigerian President will discuss issues of mutual interest to both countries, which will expectedly result in the signing of Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding on a wide range of topics geared towards further enhancing the bilateral relations between the two nations.”
Similarly, Buhari travelled to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on May 26 to participate in the programme of the African Union Extraordinary Session of Assembly of Heads of State and Government, which deliberated on terrorism, violent extremism and unconstitutional change of government in the continent.
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At the meeting, the former military leader of Nigeria agitated for a “coordinated continental response that condemns all forms of unconstitutional change of government in Africa”.
From observation, many Nigerians have not started feeling the impact of the president’s trip even though his staunch supporters have expressed optimism that the trip would produce positive results for Nigeria and Nigerians in the long run.
Some of his supporters have cited the SUKUK N100 billion fund used to fix some federal roads in all the geo-political zones, the agriculture foreign intervention funds, the electricity grid fund, gauge railway lines and the Siemens engagement in the power sector as some benefits of President Buhari’s trip across the globe while his opponents have also argued that everything could have been achieved without taking those expensive trips.
Speaking to AN24, the President, Nigeria Voters Assembly, Mashood Erubami, said that Buhari’s presidency is advantageous to the country but also noted that his trip has not contributed to the economy of the country.
Quoting him, “One of the key benefits of his travelling is that he has been coming back hale and hearty and we still see him as our president. That is very important and it is an advantage for us. His trips has nothing to do with the economy because the unfortunate condition of the economy is a global condition which is determined by the causes of demand and supply of whatever we rely on.
“In the case of Nigeria, we rely on oil, we are not the determinant of the prices of oil. The only thing making the condition of the economy to affect Nigeria is because the leaders are not honest to the country. They will talk about the increment of subsidy but will never say that crude oil is also increasing.”