Nigeria’s ‘missing-in-action’ President, Muhammadu Buhari will on Sunday, 16 May 2021 depart Abuja for Paris France, on a four-day official visit, according to a statement by presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu.
Joining President Buhari in Paris will be a dozen other African “leaders”, several European leaders and a dozen heads of international organizations.
Amongst the African heads of government embarking on this “fools’ journey” are; head of government of Angola, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan, Togo and Tunisia.
On the European side, leaders of Italy, Spain and Portugal as well as the EU. By video conference, the leaders of the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa will participate. The UN, IMF, OECD, WTO, World Bank and several international public banks will be invited. China will be represented by an as yet unspecified senior official.
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What bothers this writer is the purpose of this journey; as Garba Shehu put it, President Buhari will attend African Finance Summit.
The summit will focus on reviewing African economy, following shocks from Covid-19 pandemic, and getting relief, especially from increased debt burden on countries.
The summit, to be hosted by President Emmanuel Macron, will also draw major stakeholders in the global finance institutions and some Heads of Government, “who will, collectively, discuss external funding and debt treatment for Africa, and private sector reforms, amongst others”.
This writer is appalled and ashamed of the countless number of “fools’ journey” being embarked by African leaders to every country, whose leader can spare a few days if not hours to host African leaders and discuss “African Economy” in his or her capital.
From Japan to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, from the United Kingdom to the Russian Federation, from China to France, these so-called African leaders continue to embark on these walks of shame, while their countries are being ravaged by one misfortune or the other.
Taking Nigeria as an example, President Muhammadu Buhari will be in Paris with the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno and Director General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai. They will meet with the French President to discuss growing security threats in Sahel and Lake Chad region.
“Security threats in Sahel and Lake Chad region”? Nigeria is on fire, if one is to go by the terms being used by the “leaders”; Boko Haram in the North East, Bandits in the North West, Fulani killers herdsmen in the North Central and South West, Unknown Gunmen in the South East and South South. Yet, the supposed commander-in-chief and the the chief security officer of the country whose primary responsibility according to a constitution he swore to uphold is to “protect the life and property of the citizen”, is going to Paris along with the highest civilian authorities responsible for security to discuss Sahel and lake Chad region
If we keep the security issue on the side burner and turn to the economy, the President will also be accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Minister of Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, and Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire. The economy is shambles; Inflation is running away, Unemployment keeps increasing, the CBN just stylishly devalued the Naira again, poverty is ravaging the country… yet the supposed people tasked with manning the economy are heading to Paris, to receive the review of the economy from President Macron and others. They are supposed to discuss political relations, economic ties, climate change and partnership in buoying the health sector, particularly in checking spread of Covid-19, with more research and vaccines.
Walk on the streets and roads in Nigeria, both rural and urban centers, you will receive a comprehensive report on the security and economic conditions in Nigeria. It then begs the question, why are these people embarking on this “fools journey”?
A popular adage in Igboland says “Ihere anaghi erne onye ara, ndi ezi na ulo ya ka ihere na eme”, which roughly translates as “It is not the mad man who is ashamed but his family.”
It is utterly embarrassing and a thing of shame that with all the mineral and human resources with which Africa is blessed, the so-called leaders continue to make these fools’ journey to foreign capitals; with cap in Hand.
Africanews in a summary of the aim of the summit put it in a way that encapsulates this writers fury and shame at the so-called leaders of Africa;
“This summit aims to put in place a massive support package for Africa and to lay the foundations for a new cycle of growth on the continent, which will also be a relay for growth for the global economy,” Paris stressed.
The agenda of the French President on its official website shows that on the eve of the summit, the French President is also convening a conference in support of the transition in Sudan, where debt rescheduling with the country’s main donors should be discussed.
The Agenda of the French President show that the summit will be held on 18th May, and does not capture any scheduled meeting with the Nigerian delegation to discuss the “security threat” stated by Garba Shehu.
With Nigeria in a crossroad, is it a wise decision to have the president and his economic and security team out of the country at the same time, for 4 days?
The presidents of Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa will be participating via a video conference, couldn’t the Nigerian President do the same?
He whose house is on fire, does not chase rats… It seems like that is exactly what the man responsible for the Nigerian house is doing, given the fact that with all the turmoil in the country, he has holed himself up in Aso Rock, only to be seen outside in Paris.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur