Friday, December 4, 2015 10:34 pm
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has responded to some criticisms of President Muhammadu Buhari’s foreign trips since assuming office, with critics claiming that the trips were getting too many, and they are preventing him from concentrating on his job.
On the contrary, Lai Mohammed said, the trips were far from being frivolous. He said they were critical to the nation’s development.
Mohammed said this in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr Segun Adeyemi.
According to him, “the President’s foreign trips are critical to the implementation of his administration’s key policies of enhancing security, jump-starting the economy, creating jobs and fighting corruption.
“All the trips have been anything but frivolous and they have started yielding fruits in terms of turning the tide in the fight against the insurgents who have been most active in the North-East.
“The trips are attracting investments in the range of billions of dollars and securing global support for the administration’s anti-corruption fight.
“Nigerians, whether in the ruling or the opposition parties, have a right to ask questions about the activities of their President.
“But it is absolutely important that they do so from an informed, rather than partisan or sensational standpoint.’’
He said most of the trips to neighbouring countries like Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger; to Germany, US, France and the UN, were devoted to rallying regional and global support for the war against terrorism.
”He was in Germany at the invitation of the G7 to solicit support from the Industrialised Nations for the war against terrorism.
“No one who has witnessed the killings and maiming in the past seven years by Boko Haram will call such trips frivolous.
“After all, the security and welfare of the citizens are the reason for the existence of any government’’, he said.
Mohammed said the President’s visit to South Africa was to attend the regular summit of the African Union; the trip to Ghana was aimed at fostering better relations with a brotherly country.
“The trip to India was for the India-Africa summit that provided the opportunity to explore ways of enhancing Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), from Indian investors.
“The trip to Iran was to attend the forum of Gas Exporting Countries, a veritable platform for discussing how to better harness Nigeria’s abundant gas resources for industrial and domestic consumption and export, at a time of dwindling oil prices.
”The President also travelled to Malta to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, from where he travelled to Paris for the UN Conference on Climate Change”, he said.
The minister said that the president’s second trip to South Africa since assuming office was for the China-Africa Forum.
“On the few occasions that the President has embarked on a State Visit, he has tied that to an agenda that will further the quest for support for the war against terror and the efforts to enhance FDIs, thus stimulating economic growth and creating jobs.
“Apart from rallying global support for the country’s wars on terror and graft or seeking foreign investments, it is important that Nigeria leverages President Buhari’s brand.
“(It is a brand) of high integrity quotient, embodiment of committed and dedicated leadership to further Nigeria’s relevance and visibility on the global stage.
”Buhari is well respected on the global stage for his high integrity, his transparency, his patriotism and his purposeful leadership.
“It is important to leverage this respect in such a way that Nigeria can become a major player, either in the realms of economy or global diplomacy”, he said.
The minister emphasised that the president embarked on his trips under a very stringent budget, cutting his delegations to numbers far below what his predecessors used to travel with.
He added that the trimmed entourage had received reduced allowances on the occasions that the host governments provided accommodation and feeding.