Buhari’s foreign trips yielding positive results — Onyeama


Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria's Foreign Affairs Minister

Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s foreign trips have started yielding positive results.

Onyeama said at the News Agency of Nigeria’s (NAN) Forum in Abuja that the results were in the areas of the economy and national security.

He said such visits had started attracting investors and enhancing Foreign Direct Investment into the country.

The ministers said the trips were aimed at re-launching Nigeria in the mind of countries that hitherto distrusted it by rebuilding its image and restoring its past glory.

“You have to look at it from the point of view of where the country was when the president took over; we had existential security challenges with Boko Haram occupying some territories.

“We had rampant corruption and the oil price crashing, so his outreach to the rest of the world was to get the international community to buy into the priorities of the government.

“He identified security as one of it, and on the security, you will recall that a number of our traditional allies in the western world stopped cooperating with Nigeria militarily.”

Onyeama said some countries had stopped providing weaponry and pulled out advisers from Nigeria, while troops engaged in mutiny before the Buhari administration.

He said that in the area of security the president sought to allay the fears of other countries and get them back on board to support government’s security initiatives against Boko Haram.

“On the governance and anti-corruption side, you will also recall large amounts of money stashed away and a lot of them in the western world.

“So those visits were used to get those foreign countries to buy into the anti-corruption initiative and drive of the government and to help in the restitution of the stolen funds into the country.”

The minister noted that Nigerian faced real economic challenges with the dramatic crash in oil prices which needed urgent attention.

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He said that the president’s drive in that context was the diversification of the economy and the promotion of foreign direct investment.

“Again, those visits were geared toward increasing Foreign Direct Investment into the country in different sectors and persuading those countries that Nigeria was ready for business.

“That the issues of corruption, security and the bottlenecks are things that the government wants to tackle and they will no longer be a disincentive for foreign direct investment.

“Of course, it is a work in progress and clearly we can see the successes but they are on-going.

“We have seen greater foreign support and buy into our security challenges and fight against Boko Haram,” Onyeama said.

He said with the anti-corruption drive, the president was able to get the issue of anti-corruption put at the top of the international agenda.

Onyeama said that Nigeria sponsored a resolution on illicit flow of funds and how countries should prevent it which the UN endorsed.

“So, clearly the success can be seen there, plus the fact that funds are now being returned to Nigeria from a number of different countries.

“These countries are really now much more engaged at the highest political level in assisting Nigeria to have restitution of the stolen funds.

“With regard to the economy, we have seen the Chinese, for instance, come with big investments into the country.

“Also, a number of other countries are engaged with us in trying to promote the profile of Nigeria as a good destination for investment,” he said.

Onyeama said that the successes were also recorded in the engagement of those countries with the government in promoting or encouraging the business community to invest in Nigeria.