By GEORGE ONMONYA DANIEL
After taking over power from Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, one of the first things President Muhammadu Buhari did after he was sworn-in was the visit to President Obama. He went to the US with some of his trusted people and that visit was well publicized by the Presidency and secretive Buhari Media Organization (BMO) before Professor Farooq Kperogi, one of the ardent critics of the Buhari administration exposed the secret propaganda team organized and paid by Garba Shehu, one of the President’s media aide.
President Buhari frequented the United Kingdom too, in bid to recover Nigeria’s stolen monies in his widely publicized war against corruption campaign which he took to the West. When the then Prime Minister David Cameron jokingly referred to the Buhari administration as fantastically corrupt, the arch-Bishop of Canterbury and the Queen Elizabeth quickly defended President Buhari. That was how much he was respected in some circle in the West.
Few years afterwards it looks like President Buhari has lost all that respect. His last visit to the United States to see President Donald Trump is still memorable. Trump sat him like a headmaster talking to a head boy in his school and asked that he heard Christians are being killed in Nigeria and the United States would not accept it. We would later hear that President Donald Trump told his aides that he never wants to see a lifeless President Buhari again.
Before the end of his four years, apart from medical tourism to England, it was becoming clear that President Buhari has become quite unpopular in the West. Human rights abuses, unable to handle the mass killings by his tribesmen on rampage in the Middle Belt and around Zamfara State, unable to tackle Boko Haram and accusation that he was using the EFFC to target opposition all tainted his image. It became clear during the presidential campaign in 2018 and election in 2019, that the administration was afraid of Buhari’s unpopularity in the West.
Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s threatening the West on live NTA program made it clear that there was a crack. Governor Nasir el-Rufai said any attempts by the West to interfere would result to them ending in bodybags. The US, UK and EU responded to him that their work is just supervisory to ensure credible election.
Since Buhari’s controversial victory which is being challenged by the candidate of the main opposition in court, he has leaned more to the Islamic countries than the West. Immediately after his inauguration on 29th May, 2019, President Buhari took off to attend the gathering of Organization of Islamic Council (OIC) even without addressing Nigerians of his four years in office and of the future, which we later learned that he would do on June 12th.
Member of the President Buhari’s administration has accused the United States of refusing to sell arms to the government to fight Boko Haram. They have accused and expelled UNICEF for sabotaging the war against Boko Haram.
They also accused Amnesty International of giving false information that hurts the Nigeria military and war against Boko Haram terrorists. These are signs that President Buhari has lost both respect and goodwill in the West.
The question we should be asking is what type of deal can Buhari get Nigeria from the Islamic world? Some people in his administration are already telling us of Sukuk fund. But will Buhari isolating himself from the West help Nigeria?