Yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari left Nigeria on a 4-day official trip to the United States of America (USA). While there, he will be a guest to US President, Barak Obama, an apostle of same-sex marriage and other weird ideas.
Mr. President’s visit to the US is of great interest to Nigerians for obvious reasons. He is expected to discuss issues of security threats, insurgency, anti-corruption war and trade relations amongst other matters. According to diplomatic sources, both Buhari and Obama would exchange “Wish Lists”. Simply put, it means what each president would want the other to do for his country. There is no doubt that going by statements from US officials prior to the visit, Obama would as a condition for the US support to Nigeria, ask Buhari to review the position of Nigeria on the controversial same-sex marriage and repeal the law passed last year by the Nigerian Parliament. Right now, Nigeria nay African nations’ position on this matter is well known and documented.
It would therefore be needless to speculate on what President Buhari should do or not do, should say or not say during the visit because it is assumed that he already knows. What I will advise President Buhari is to ‘shine his eyes’ very well, reject any strange gift from President Obama, and avoid falling victim to Obama’s antics.
Another thing I want President Buhari to be mindful of is how he addresses issues concerning Nigeria. It is true that some skeptics would want to refer to the German trip he made recently and the things the president said there but that is all in the past. With the lessons learnt from the German trip, there is no doubt that Buhari and his team would not disappoint us in America. Those who think President Buhari should sit at home to checkmate thieving politicians fail it because that would mean sitting at home to brood over the nations’ setbacks instead of doing a more pragmatic thing of getting the rest of the world to see Nigeria as a great potential in spite of her challenges.
Just as Christians were told by Jesus Christ not to look back at their past failures, a nation or a people should also be able to put past mistakes behind and move on. This is not to say that we should ignore the lessons to be learnt from past mistakes but the fact is that the opportunity to put such lessons in practice lies only in the future.
Indeed, the lapses of the Germany trip can no longer be anticipated but one wishes to hint at some of the areas the president and his handlers may overlook. Chances are that the President’s men may actually not be in a position to realize how necessary it is to look at this area in their pre-visit rehearsals either because they (or some of them) are themselves in the habit of doing same or because they may not see it as part of their brief.
I am referring to the penchant for talk downs. President Buhari, for reasons we need not go into here, has the penchant for describing our dear country in hyperbole and indeed in unflattering tones.
Agreed, things are not as they should be but such words as “shame”, “disgrace”, etc are too hash to be applied on the country by the president. Resort to negative characterization of the country is too ordinary to come from a president who is supposed to personify the sovereignty of the state. One cannot, of course, refer to oneself as a “disgrace” or ascribe “shame” to oneself. Yes, labour unions, student activists etc can afford to use harsh words on their country but certainly not our dear president.
Since his assumption of office, President Buhari has not ceased to employ harsh words for the country he now leads. As grave as the salary crisis is, the presidents’ allusion to it as a “disgrace” in his first official reaction was at once a trivialization of the matter and a talk-down on the nation. The word, “disgrace”, is too ordinary to describe such a grave situation. The matter is not as simple as that because the word “disgrace” conjures a lack of proper appreciation of what led the country into such an ugly state.
The salary crisis is not a child’s play and whatever led to it was or is too serious or deep-rooted to be dismissed with just a vitriolic as “disgrace”. Agreed, the president was trying to look at it from a partisan point of view since the salary palaver is believed to be part of the rot of the administration he dismantled, but having taken over, words and expressions that are more edifying to the collective image of Nigerians should be preferred to those that target the alleged incompetence of his predecessor.
President Buhari as a democratically elected president should not be the same as an adventurous military officer who led a military coup more than 30 years ago to become Head of State. If he were to go through the speeches and remarks made by him in those days, the president would most certainly discover that words like “disgrace”, “shameful”, “unfortunate” etc, featured quite prominently. My view is that as bad as things are, such words should be expunged from our presidential lexicon. The other day, the president, in expressing his feelings over Nigeria’s apparent reliance on poorer, less militarily endowed neighbouring countries in the fight against Boko Haram, asked rhetorically: “How are the mighty fallen”.
Apart from the expression being a familiar cliché, it is condescending to the nation.
To refer to the “mighty” Nigeria as “fallen” is at once a hyperbole and an over simplification of the particular issue at stake. The “mighty” Nigeria could certainly not have fallen when its military had almost boxed the Boko Haram insurgents to the corner just before the last general election. It is such negative prognosis that has probably hindered the new administration from taking advantage of the successes recorded by the Nigerian military before the advent of present regime.
The point being made here therefore is that President Buhari’s handlers should look for a way of putting it across to him that while in Washington DC, he should take it easy with Obama. He is there as President of Nigeria and not as presidential candidate of a political party. Buhari should neither compromise his position as president nor that of Nigeria, the largest black nation on earth. Nigerians and the entire world are watching his actions and utterances with keen interests.

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