What’s Different In Buhari’s Visit To America? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Cover Choice, POLITICS

What’s Different In Buhari’s Visit To America?

Posted: Jul 26, 2015 at 12:02 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

On July 19, President Muhammadu Buhari, left Abuja for the USA with a 33-man delegation, and on July 20, the Nigerian leader met his American counterpart, Barack Obama.

Cover ChoiceThe leaders, according to the Presidency, planned to discuss a “holistic, regional approach to combating Boko Haram” and important economic and political reforms in Nigeria.

Speaking about the president’s four-day-stay in America, Nigeria’s ambassador to the US, Professor Ade Adefuye, stressed that the visit was important for both countries because Nigeria and the US remain partners on many fronts.

“The importance of the visit is in the fact that the US is accommodating President Buhari at Blair House, the first of its kind for a Nigerian leader and at no expense to the country,” the ambassador added.

Ahead of Buhari’s visit to the USA, Johnnie Carson, a former assistant American secretary of state, stated that Nigeria is the most important country in Africa and must be treated as such.

Carson noted that the discussion between Nigeria and America should not be restricted to insecurity adding that both countries need closer trade and investment ties.

Similarly, Tony Blinken, the US deputy secretary of state, revealed that “Obama has long seen Nigeria as arguably the most important strategic country in sub-Saharan Africa.”

At home, according to reports, some Nigerians wondered why Buhari was leaving Nigeria at such a tough time, with the Boko Haram insurgency increasing its attacks. Some people cautioned Buhari to be careful with the USA which wants to enforce same sex laws on Nigerians.

President Buhari’s predecessors, Olusegun Obasanjo, and Goodluck Jonathan, had had similar visits to the US in their time, with arguably little to show for their trouble.

Regardless, the president’s Special Adviser on Media, Femi Adesina, had insisted that the official visit will “strengthen and intensify bilateral and international cooperation against terrorism in Nigeria and West-Africa.”

According to the statement, President Buhari will meet with the United States Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, and the Secretary of Defense, Robert Work.

These were the first public details of President Buhari’s trip to the United States, which included meetings between the Nigerian delegation and top US officials.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and the US Congressional Committees on Foreign Relations were also billed to receive President Buhari to discuss political ties between the United States and Nigeria.

The Congressional Black Caucus in the US House of Representatives was to meet with members of Nigeria’s delegation as well.

President Buhari was expected to make public addresses at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC and at the Corporate Council on Africa to discuss international investment and Nigeria’s economy. President Buhari would have a reunion with graduates of the American War College Class of 1980, according to the statement.

Accompanying President Buhari was an 18-man delegation, including Permanent Secretaries of the Federal Ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Industry, Trade and Investment, and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. In addition to this delegation were governors, including the governors of Imo, Nasarawa, Edo, Borno and Oyo States.

As expected, the trip received intense media coverage, but by the time President Buhari returned to Abuja on Thursday, July 23, some Nigerians expressed disappointment over the failure of the government to get US approval of an arms deal to enhance the war against the Boko Haram insurgency.

Despite this, some commentators hold the view that it was a worthwhile trip.