Waiting For Bounties Of America’s Goodwill | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Waiting For Bounties Of America’s Goodwill

Posted: Jul 22, 2015 at 8:20 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By William Igenegbai  –  Lagos


Nigerians have referred to the visit by the Nigerian President, General Muhammadu Buhari, to the United States (US) on the invitation of the American President, Barak Obama, as a positive development. This, according to them, is because for a long time, the country did not enjoy the measure of goodwill it is enjoying from the international community as it is doing today. The first sign of the goodwill coming for Nigeria after the general elections in April echoed from Obama’s statement in White House, when he said: “The last few days have shown the world the strength of Nigeria’s commitment to democratic principles. By turning out in large numbers and sometimes waiting all day to cast their votes, Nigerians came together to decide the future of their country peacefully.

“I commend President Goodluck Jonathan and President-Elect Muhammadu Buhari for their public commitments to non-violence throughout the campaign. President Jonathan has placed his country’s interests first by conceding the election and congratulating President-Elect Buhari on his victory.”

Immediately after the President was inaugurated he was invited to the G7 Summit in Schloss Elmau, Germany, where he presented his wish list to the group of the most developed nations in the world. The countries had then pledged to assist the country in tackling its socio-political and economic problems. At that summit Obama and Buhari had discussed and agreed on a visit to the US by the Nigerian President.

Thus on June 25 the White House announced that the US President would host the Nigerian President in Washington DC on July 20. On Sunday, July 19, President Buhari arrived Washington DC, on a four-day official visit to the US.

The president, who arrived at Joint Based Andrews Airport Washington, was received by the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and the US Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle.

Others at the airport to receive the President included the Nigerian Ambassador to the US, Ade Adefuye, Nigerian embassy officials and governors of Borno, Nasarawa, Imo, Oyo and Edo states, Kashim Shettima, Umar Tanko Al-Makura, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Abila Ajimobi and Adams Oshiomhole respectively.

At a meeting at the historic Oval Office at the White House on Monday, Obama commended Buhari for working to restore safety, security and peace to Nigeria, saying that Buhari has “a very clear agenda in defeating Boko Haram and extremists of all sorts inside of his country. And he has a very clear agenda in terms of rooting out the corruption that too often has held back the economic growth and prosperity of his country.”

Obama also pledged the US partnership with Nigeria so that the country “ends up being not only an anchor of prosperity and stability in the continent, but can also be an outstanding role model for developing countries around the world.”  He also pledged his country’s assistance in helping the Nigerian government to recover the about $150 billion stashed away in foreign accounts by corrupt Nigerians.

Even the US investors, through the Chairman of the Corporate Council on Africa, Mr. Paul Hinks, at a business forum organised for Buhari, expressed their readiness to do business with the new government in Nigeria. To confirm this, Mr. Hinks invited Buhari to be the chairman of the council’s summit slated for Ethiopia in November.

Political commentators have seen the invitation and the visit as a positive development for Nigeria. They say that it shows that the country can rise from the mess of the recent past and be accepted by the international community. They, however, commended the Nigerian electorate who, through the ballot, brought about the goodwill the country is getting today. They liken the situation to the time of General Murtala Muhammed when a Nigerian could walk anywhere in the world with his head high, a time when it was pride to be Nigerian and a time Nigerians were respected anywhere in the world.

One of those who spoke on the importance of the visit, an architect and social critic, Engineer Swanzy Oguike, recalled how after the Festival of Arts and Culture in 1977 (FESTAC’ 77), most contingents from some East African countries refused to go back home and disappeared into the bushes around the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.

“I still remember then; one was proud to declare anywhere in the world that he was a Nigerian. That was when the dollar was exchanging for 64 kobo and the pound sterling for N1.20 kobo. Then foreigners were happy to associate with Nigerians, and they were eager to visit the country. But the Second Republic politicians came and did things that plunged the country into the mess that we are now trying to extricate ourselves from,” he said.

According to him, “Buhari has started well, especially in his efforts to recover the looted funds, and we should pray that God should help him to properly utilise the goodwill that is pouring in for him and the country.”

Some Nigerians, however, warn that it is yet too early to celebrate as we have to wait for the benefits of the visit to start to manifest. They say that such celebrations will not have amounted to anything if at the end of the day the various promises by the international community do not yield any results that will mitigate the pains of the ordinary Nigerians who have been pauperised by the profligacy and monumental graft that the country witnessed in the recent past.