By Obayomi Abiola Benjamin
The United States has believed in some parlance today, is the most powerful country in the World. A lot of persons may not agree with this assertion hook, line and sinker in the sense that there are other nations today that may take this position in some few years to come if the US is complacent. Apart from countries like Germany, Russia, and Britain who are equally powerful on their own, the US have over the years attained this position because of her supposed role in the world as the ‘big brother’ for many nations on earth. Talk of the best economy in the world today, military might, armory possession and sales across the globe, you can be sure that the United States would take the lead in some of these things being mentioned as we have it today. This fete and many more usually makes anyone who occupies the White House as the President one of the most powerful man or woman in the World anytime and any day and everywhere (if not the most powerful).
Leaders around the World visiting the White House are not a new thing. It is expected that a country as powerful as the US would have quite a large number of friends around the globe as much as they have enemies too. Many nations, especially the developing ones like Nigeria believes that partnering with such a successful country as the US would have a positive influence on her economy and rapid development. Nigeria occupy a strategic position in Africa being the largest oil producing nation in Africa, has the biggest economy as of today and also boasts of the largest population in Africa. Because of these and many more, the US believes that partnering with country like Nigeria within the African continent is a good omen for the continent’s rapid development. This has been the essence of the US/Nigeria relations over the years.
The White House hosting Nigerian Presidents is not a new thing. The visit of President Muhammadu Buhari just happens to be the latest we have witnessed. Starting from 1999, the then President Olusegun Obasanjo visited the White House shortly after he was sworn in as Nigeria’s president. Almost nine years after, the late President Yar’Adua also visited the White House and was hosted by the then US President George W. Bush. Goodluck Jonathan’s time also came in 2011 when he visited Barack Obama shortly after his swearing in May of 2011. For all we know, it was just visit upon visit and little effect back at home. This latest visit by Muhammadu Buhari is strategic to a lot of things in this current administration. There are mounted pressures on President Buhari’s leadership to bring about an end to status quo and bring change into every sector of Nigeria’s space, ranging from insecurity to tackling corruption and the likes.
BokoHaram remains the biggest challenge the nation is facing right now. It appears their onslaught on innocent lives became more intense since Muhammadu Buhari became President barely two months ago. Efforts by the last administration of Goodluck Jonathan to bring the United States to support Nigeria in the fight against the Islamic sect was futile because of some human right abuses being perpetuated by the Nigerian army as reported by Amnesty International. Because of this, efforts by the Goodluck Ebele led administration to get US support didn’t see the light of day. Purchase of arms from the US was also hindered and the administration had to look elsewhere which eventually culminated into the brawl between Nigeria and South Africa over an alleged $9.3million dollars being seized by the South African authority from some Nigerians, money we were told was meant to purchase weapons for the Nigerian military.
It is believed that President Muhammadu Buhari extensively addressed this issue with his US counterpart and we should probably be seen a renewed commitment from the United States helping Nigeria in the fight against the insurgency in some coming days. Just few weeks into his administration, Washington released $5million dollars as a show of support to the multi-national task force set up to fight BokoHaram. This sum comes as an addition to an already planned $34 million dollars it is providing for Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger for some equipment and logistics. With all these indications, one can be rest assured that BokoHaram would soon become a thing of the past in Nigeria.
Also in his quest to end corruption, there is no better time to seek for cooperation from the United States in this regard other than now. It is no longer new that Nigeria is one of the most corrupt nations on earth. The history of Nigeria’s corruption is not something that started today. It started way back during the military era, an endemic that General Muhammadu Buhari (being the Military Head of State) tried to stamp out in the mid-eighties. Part of President Buhari’s discussion with Barack Obama during this visit was how the US could cooperate with Nigeria on tracking down billions of dollars in stolen assets. It is a well-known fact that the US has the capacity to track down stolen funds around the World. Just last year, US took control of close to $500 million stolen by the former dictator, Sani Abacha and his associates into banks around the World. President Buhari’s enthusiasm in tacking corruption is so high. When asked by CNN international correspondent Christiane Amanpour on her show few days whether he was ready to try any member of his party linked to any corruption allegations, the President simply answered in the affirmative. This is just an indication that Muhammadu Buhari is not going to leave any stone unturned in his fight against corruption, especially now that the US cooperation has been gotten. Nigeria corrupt politicians can only brace up for the battle ahead.
Finally, this White House visit of President Buhari was a clear departure from the previous jamboree of past Nigerian leaders to the White House. As the President settles down to continue his task of leading the country in the right direction, we can only hope the dividends of this visit would become visible. It is only then we can judge extensively if the visit was worth it, and that the President has not gone to the US White House to mark register like his predecessors.
About Obayomi Abiola Benjamin:
Obayomi Abiola Benjamin is a real estate broker and usually tweets via @abibeo_oba.
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