Buhari’s rock star in­ter­na­tional im­age

Daily Trust - - OPINION - By Garba Shehu

Muham­madu Buhari, the new Nige­rian Leader 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 Nige­ri­anMis­sion 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 teemin­gunem­ployed, 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 lineup 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.

Among world lead­ers Pres­i­dent Buhari met in­clude: His Majesty, Don Felipe VI, King of Spain; H.E. Mr. XI Jin­ping, the Pres­i­dent of the Peo­ples Re­pub­lic of China; H.E. Rt Hon. David Cameron, Prime Min­is­ter of United King­dom of Great Bri­tain and North­ern Is­land; H.E. Park Geun-hye, Pres­i­dent of the Re­pub­lic of Korea; His Majesty, and King Ab­d­u­al­lah II Bin Hus­seini, King of the Hashen­iteKing­dom of Jor­dan

Other events in­clude 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 Sec­re­taryGen­eral Ban Ki Moon; Re­cep­tion by the Pres­i­dent of the United States of Amer­ica and Mrs. Obama;

The Pres­i­dent also had a 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 as well as side event or­ga­nized by Nige­ria’s Na­tional Agency for the Con­trol of AIDS(NACA).

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.

Shehu is the SSAP (Media &Pub­lic­ity)

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