Buhari’s Rockstar International Image – Garba Shehu
President Muhammadu Buhari, seems to be the embodiment of everybody’s idea of a reformist capable of restoring the lost glory of the World’s biggest black nation.
For the reason that he has the trust of Nigerians, he has rekindled their hope of their country achieving the greatness destined for it. Even when he protests against larger than life images of himself, he has been wildly popular at home in Nigeria.
His recent engagements in and around the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), put a stamp on his rock star international image.
While still in Nigeria, tens of adoring foreign leaders had written to the Nigerian Mission at the UN and directly through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting for bilateral meetings in New York with President Muhammadu Buhari.
With a population of 170 million and endowments in natural resources, there are many countries that are eager to expand into Nigeria but the one key that seems to be unlocking all the doors and lifting Nigeria’s image abroad is President Buhari’s personal characteristics.
He is seen as a leader with personal integrity, honesty and truthfulness.
He is perceived as a promising reformer, a crusader against corruption and a unifier of a people who are yearning for a change.
Since he assumed office, he has traveled to the neighbouring countries and the major capitals of the world seeking a unified approach to the war on terror in the North-East, and the piracy, oil pipeline sabotage and crude oil theft in Southern Nigeria.
In addition to solicitations for investment so as to create jobs for the teeming unemployed, the President has been making attempts to strengthen Nigeria’s position in the international community as a big player.
For the first time in any public speech he has made, President Buhari in a New York newspaper interview spoke about his country’s aspiration and qualification for the membership of a reformed United Nations Security Council.
The euphoric cheers he got while addressing the UN are a part of this unfolding story, not the whole story by itself. The real story is in the line-up of leaders of nations, big and small, serving, and out-of-office with requests for one-on-one or bilateral meetings with President Buhari. Since it was humanly impossible to cope with the deluge of demands, a sifting and balancing acts had to be used.
In the course of the visit, the President accepted or took part in the following side events:-
- United Nations Industrial Development (UNIDO) meeting on the “Operationalisation of the post- 2015 Development Agenda for African Industrialisation;”
- High-Level Roundtable on South-South cooperation, organised by China
- Heads of State and Governments’ meeting of African Union Peace and Security Council (AU-PSC), at the Permanent Observer Mission of Africa Union to the United Nations;
- Global Leaders Summit on countering ISIL and Violent Extremism convened by the U.S. President Obama;
- Summit Meeting on Climate Change, called by French President Hollande and the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon;
- Reception by the President of the United States of America and Mrs. Obama;
- Side event organized by Nigeria’s National Agency for the Control of AIDS(NACA)
* Meeting of the UN Fund for Population Activities:” Building Stability and Resilience in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin Countries” convened by Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin.
Other world Leaders met include:-
- His Majesty, Don Felipe VI, King of Spain
- E. Mr. XI Jinping, the President of the Peoples Republic of China;
- E. Rt Hon. David Cameron, Prime Minister of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island;
- E. Park Geun-hye, President of the Republic of Korea;
- His Majesty, King Abduallah II Bin Husseini, King of the Hashenite Kingdom of Jordan
- E. the Prime Minister of Guyana H.E. Moses Nagamootoo;
- E. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary-General of the UN;
- Bill Gates, the Chief Executive Officer of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation;
- E. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
- Former President Bill Clinton of the U.S.A.
- E. the Prime Minister of Malta H.E. Joseph Muscat
- Gordon Brown former British Prime Minister and President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria;
- Christopher Stone, President of Open Society Foundations and
- Julia Stasch, President of McArthur Foundation
Most of these meetings were dominated by issues of defence cooperation and economic ties.
Matters explored included economic development, jobs, investment in the economy, foreign policy, global security landscape and the President’s important effort to secure the country and manage it efficiently.
President Buhari also showed a determination to use the international system in stemming corruption and helping not only Nigeria but the other growing nations in the recovery of their stolen assets.
Groups such as McArthur and Bill Gates Foundations and Gordon Brown’s UN-Backed “Safe Schools Initiative” are expected to aid the recovery and rehabilitation of Schools and other infrastructure in the North-East.
At all of these meetings, President Buhari asked the international community to be united in combating the challenges posed by terrorism across the World. In his words, “no nation is immune to this threat. We must therefore stand united against terror.”
One of these meetings that stood out from the rest is the one President Buhari had with the King of Jordan.
Beyond making acquaintance and congratulating the Nigeria leader on his election victory, King Abdullah promised to offer assistance in any way possible to help Nigeria fight terror. He promised to bring the experience of his country, itself surrounded by terrorist activities manifested by ISIL, Al-Shabab, Houthi rebellion and others to help Nigeria out as it confronts Boko Haram.
President Buhari returned to the country convinced that his government is doing all the rights in our international relations that would catalyze Nigeria’s revival as a key player on the global stage and a favourable destination for foreign investment.
This is a departure for a nation that suffered for years under a government that immersed in self-serving engagements and unfriendly attitude towards neighbours.
With all of these going on on the part of Nigeria, President Buhari will continue to be seen all over the world as a potential game-changer who will realize the dream of a rich, powerful and stable Nigeria.