Prior to May 29, 2015, Nigeria received numerous words of support and had the hope of better things to come from the international community, especially the United States of America. Then, America congratulated Muhammadu Buhari for winning the presidential election of March 28, widely deemed as one of the best conducted in Nigeria’s history. The United States released numerous press statements and maintained over the following weeks its decision to give maximum support to the administration of President Buhari in the fight against terrorism.
The level of hope Nigeria had from these was amazing and it made many to believe that Nigeria’s friendship with the United States, which soured during the administration of former President Jonathan, was on its way to positive renewal. Some of the facts that convinced several Nigerians then that the world’s super power had finally decided to throw its weight behind Nigeria fully included the invitation of President Buhari to Washington DC on Monday July 20, 2015. However, the invitation equally evoked apprehension in a number of Nigerians.
Before President Buhari’s visit to the United States, many feared that the world’s most powerful president, Barack Obama would pressure his Nigerian counterpart to move against the anti-gay law signed by former President Goodluck Jonathan, and reward the country for this through the sales of military weapons to fight Boko Haram, now regarded as IS West Africa. Apart from such fear, all hopes were high that President Buhari would return home with the support of the United States, economically and in security matters.
President Buhari who arrived America on Sunday July 19 met President Barack Obama the next day. It was reported that he had a ‘successful’ meeting with the American leader on the evil attacks of the Boko Haram terrorists, and later with the United States’ Senate and House Committees on Foreign Affairs, the United States Institute of Peace, and also Nigerians living in America.
It is unfortunate that days after the conclusion of President Buhari’s visit to America, his media team is yet to give Nigerians a comprehensive picture of the visit and its anticipated outcomes.
During his meeting with the United States’ Senate and House Committees on Foreign Affairs, President Buhari boldly told them that same sex marriage is a stranger and taboo to Nigerian norms and values. Interestingly, the issue was not pushed after that. The president also informed the United States Institute of Peace that America’s refusal to sell arms to Nigeria was hindering the fight against terror in the country. The president’s statements are facts. Gay marriage is a taboo in Nigeria and it will be ridiculous for America to expect Nigeria’s president to push for the repeal of the extant legalisation on this. It is also a fact that the lack of sophisticated weaponry and technology is impeding the successful fight against terrorism in the country.
However, it would be highly unrealistic to expect major assistance from the United States if one failed in acceding to its request, even if this was more suggested than articulated. Although the world’s super power claims that it is prevented by the Leahy Law from providing military assistance to Nigeria due to the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Nigerian Armed Forces under former President Jonathan’s administration, how sure are we that these ‘human rights abuses’ in question do not crucially include the prohibition of gay marriage in the country, which America now considers a fundamental right?
It is highly unfortunate for the US to invite our president to spend days on American soil to discuss concerns including security issues affecting the Nigerian state, and by implication the West African subregion, and still decide to frustrate him by saying they can’t sell arms to Nigeria because our military forces are acute violators of human rights. What then was the essence of the invitation? What sort of assistance would America give to Nigeria’s military that will be productive without allowing the institution to be equipped with arms? America should have come out clearly that they can’t sell arms to us if we do not protect the ‘rights’ of gays, rather than playing to the international gallery through human rights claims. It is known that no American gift comes free and it is time for Nigeria to review it’s relationship with the super power.
They should also tell us if the visit attained any solution in sight to the problem of Nigeria’s epileptic power supply… (and) if there was any convincing conclusion to America’s promise to help the recovery of the country’s stolen wealth kept in the United states and other Western countries.
Moreover, did Nigeria’s president simply waste days and expend public funds in the United States on a ‘mere picnic’ or were other useful issues, besides security, discussed? Was the problem of epileptic power supply that Nigeria has been battling for decades discussed with those relevant to solving this on the visit? It is unfortunate that days after the conclusion of President Buhari’s visit to America, his media team is yet to give Nigerians a comprehensive picture of the visit and its anticipated outcomes. The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina and his Senior Special Assistant to the President colleague, Garba Shehu should do the needful. Mr. Adesina and Shehu should inform Nigerians if there was any indication whatsoever that America would still assist Nigeria on the fight against Boko Haram, as they initially promised to do, or whether the situation is totally lost. They should also tell us if the visit attained any solution in sight to the problem of Nigeria’s epileptic power supply. Equally, the presidential media team should let Nigerians know if there was any convincing conclusion to America’s promise to help the recovery of the country’s stolen wealth kept in the United states and other Western countries.
The media team of President Buhari should note that informing Nigerians of the outcomes of the American visit would help citizens to contribute to the review of our foreign policy if the trip achieved nothing meaningful. Keeping this secret is not in the interest of Nigeria. It is time for Nigerians to know if America is with us or against us. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine potential others!
God bless Nigeria.