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Buhari’s pledge to defend Nigerians abroad

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President Muhammadu Buhari said all the right things in Spain the other day when he visited and met with Nigerians living in Spain on the sidelines of his official visit, pledging that Nigeria would continue to defend the interests of its nationals living abroad. Also, Buhari called on investors to look beyond challenges currently facing the world and focus on opportunities, as, according to him, there are no challenges without opportunities and solutions.

These are words expected of leaders meeting their people particularly outside the country; to assure them of his correct handling of affairs at home. However, the president has a herculean task in his hands to convince Nigerians in the Diaspora and their hosts about stability and an environment conducive for good living and safe conduct of businesses. These ideals are starkly missing in the country today, and, no thanks to global technology, the facts cannot be kept secret anywhere in the world. The president should begin charity from home and protect millions of Nigerians and non-nationals living in the country. Only then can he seriously assure those outside the shores of the country.

The Diaspora team, which met with the President included John Bosco, president of the association; his deputy, Richard Omoregbe; Super Eagles player who plies his trade with Leganes FC, Kenneth Omeruo; Obinna Okafor, a football agent; Mohammed Bashir, a student of Aviation; Segun Adedoyin, studying Global Affairs, and Bright Omorodion, a businessman. Buhari also met with two Spanish companies doing business in Nigeria and assured them of a safe, secure and prosperous country. At a meeting with executives of GB Foods, which grows tomatoes in Kebbi State, and employs about 5,000 people, the President pledged that the entire country would be secured, noting that it is one of the cardinal objectives of the administration.

Nigeria first registered its diplomatic service under the Tafawa Balewa administration three years prior to independence, to address the country’s relations with foreign countries in the areas of economic and administrative cooperation. Regrettably, over the years, the country has been unable to cope with challenges facing the embassies in the host countries, including facilitating communication and regular interaction between the Nigerian government and foreign leaders, as well to defend Nigeria’s interests in the host nations.

No doubt, the safety of Nigerian citizens is an important national policy of government because it goes a long way to either reinforce or diminish the morals of those living abroad. However, aside the insecurity challenge, there are more problems at home than abroad. Nigerians at home needs basic amenities that Nigerians living abroad enjoy with buoyancy.

Currently, Nigeria’s insecurity seems to be in a flux without a cure. This has been a cause for concern to well-meaning Nigerians and many watchers of the country’s security situation. Despite the fine lines of thought and pledge, the present administration barely knows what or how to do with the safety and welfare of Nigerians back at home talk less of those living abroad.

Public attention has also been drawn to Nigeria’s underfunding of its missions abroad, due to combined mismanagement of the economy and corruption; and the funding deficit is negatively affecting the nation’s foreign policy and diplomatic interest. Poor funding has precluded the nation from meeting routine diplomatic obligations as rent payments, legal services or attending to the welfare of Nigerians abroad. Not too long ago the Nigerian High Commission in London reportedly sacked over 50 members of staff partly because of budgetary constraints. Diplomats often have to look for other means of subsistence. No country is free of funding challenges but Nigeria’s case is more challenging because of government’s poor response to the needs of the missions abroad as well as the plight of Nigerians living abroad.

While government’s primary responsibility is to protect the lives and property of the citizens especially when hostile forces are within and around the country. The pledge to protect Nigerians living in foreign lands should first and foremost be a product of domestic demonstration by protecting the socio-economic and political well-being of Nigerians at home. Nigeria cannot get an acceptable international image by a mere presidential pledge to protect the nation’s citizens in foreign lands. A country where Nigerians are been killed daily; and government is complacent or helpless, is not the best to showcase to foreign investors.

Today, insecurity has denied Nigeria from being a good brand it used to. It is not enough for the President to claim that “detractors are working very hard against efforts of government” and “that was why we closed our borders for so long…” The president has a duty to assure foreign investors about their business and personal safety and also ensure that every aspect of government is working and that the rule of law is sacrosanct.

Nigeria being the most populated black nation in the world, whose fate is also tied to the fate of the black race, President Buhari’s administration should improve the business environment by providing constant electricity, maintain good road network within the country and put an end to multiple taxation. When the correct environment is achieved in the country, foreign investors will more than romance with investments in the country; and Nigerians everywhere can be the country’s proud ambassadors.

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