PRESIDENT BUHARI'S TRIP TO AMERICA: HOW DO WE MEASURE SUCCESS?


  From all the official and several media accounts, PMB's four-day visit to the USA was a huge success. He met President Obama in the Oval Office for a beautiful photo-op. He held several meetings around the Country and met several high ranking Public and Private sector officials. He had several breakfast , luncheon and dinner meetings. He even had town hall meeting with Nigerians where he proved to me that he listens to what Nigerians are saying about 

t him, BABA GO SLOW . He was interviewed by many global media and was back on Amanpour's show. I therefore identify with all the beautiful sentiments expressed by many regarding the trip and to add that PMB discharged himself meritoriously.
  But we must all remember that this is not the first trip by Nigerian leaders to the USA which had been hailed as very successful, yet without any enduring benefit to the People of Nigeria. Against my expectations at this austere times, PMB undertook this trip with a fairly large delegation and it is clear that the trip must have cost the nation a handsome amount. I have always insisted that the success of any venture must be measured by verifiable criteria and accomplishment. When all the photos have faded, and all the effusion of praise and sentiments must have receeded, how will we judge the success of this well advertised trip:
1. Diplomatic Reconnection with America
I do not know exactly what Jonathan did, but it was clear that he fell out of favour with America. Was it because of his alleged apparently poor handling of the CHIBOK girls kidnap by Bokoharam insurgents,or the tardiness of the Petroleum Industry Bill(PIB )or could it be his refusal to accept the Same sex marriage doctrine or the high corruption perception of his government. I do not know, but from all indications, from diplomatic sources and non governmental sources, Nigeria's relationship with America had soured. 
   But with the warmth and goodwill exhibited by President Obama and the access the Nigerian delegation had to high ranking American Public and Private Sector officials, it is evident that Nigeria has reconnected with America diplomatically. Certainly other benefits will accrue from this improved diplomatic relationship.
2. Nigeria gains global Respect
It is very clear that President Obama respects PMB very much. He introduced PMB generously to the global media. He said he was a man of integrity and that he had a focused agenda for Nigeria. With the way Obama gesticulated and genuflected in the presence of PMB, his respect was obvious. And so it can be deduced that if the leader of the free World can respect the leader of Nigeria this much, then other global leaders will follow suit and such global respect will rub off on Nigeria. For long, Nigeria's respectability on the global stage has waned and this resurgence is most welcome, coming on the heels of a successful presidential election and 'unexpected' peaceful change of government.
3. Will America buy Nigeria' oil?
One critical way to measure the success of this trip is to know if it will get America to resume purchase of Nigeria's crude oil. For many many years , America was Nigeria's biggest oil customer. But in the last year or so, America stopped buying our crude completely. There must be many reasons for their action, including the increased domestic production of Shale oil.  But America still imports some crude. If PMB's visit gets America back to our market, then it would be a major success.
4. Will America sell Nigeria needed alms to fight Insurgency?
One of the greatest embarrassments we received from America in the last couple of years was their refusal or reluctance to supply Nigeria critical military hardware required to fight terrorism. It Was this refusal that forced Nigeria to the desperate action of carrying cash to the black market in  South Africa and subsequently to Russia. Yet we still do not have all the modern equipment that we need. If President Buhari's red carpet reception by his American war college classmates will make America change its mind and supply us the needed equipment and intelligence technology,  then we will have something tangible to measure the success of the trip.
5. Will More American Investment flow into Nigeria- oil & Non oil?
We have witnessed a painful  divestment of American and multinational interest in our upstream oil and Gas sector. The reasons for this trend are many, some unjustifiable from Nigeria's perspective. Our proven reserves are declining and new finds are diminishing. We need the multinationals to resume investing in our upstream oil and gas as well as in non oil sectors. The moment America shows significant renewed interest in investing in Nigeria again, other western Nations will follow. Nigeria sorely needs a higher inflow of foreign direct investment( FDI) which has shown some decline in the last two years,especially to the oil sector. Nigeria needs to diversify its economy and the efforts started in  agriculture and manufacturing by the last regime needs to be ramped up speedily. American investment will be needed to balance investment from the East, especially China. We should therefore be counting and measuring FDI inflows following this American trip.
6. Will the G7 Nations Fulfill their Promise to Nigeria?
One of the earliest trips of PMB on assumption of Office was the trip to Germany in June to attend the G7 summit. Here, promises were made to support Nigeria in the fight against Bokoharam and Corruption. How many have been fulfilled as at date? Many more promises have been made by the USA along these lines. I am particularly fascinated by the promise to get the FBI to help Nigeria recover the 150  billion dollars stacked in American Banks by Corrupt Nigerian officials. To me the fact that we can quote a definite figure gives hope that there is some record somewhere. PMB was alleged to have said that some past Ministers were selling one million barrels of Oil daily and paying the money into their personal accounts. Wow! With that kind of information, it should not be very difficult to arraign these thieves and recover the money. 
  Can you imagine what 150 billion dollars can do for Nigeria right now. For one, the issue of unpaid salaries would be dispensed with and PMB would have enough to fill the ' empty treasury' he inherited. And perhaps that will help to speed things up. Therefore I can not wait to see the money trickling back and I hope to keep records, knowing that in the spirit of transparency, we will be told when the recovery begins and from whom they are recovered. This will be one of the most important indices I will use to measure the success of PMB's American trip.
  Finally therefore, I believe that PMB will make a lot more foreign trips during his term. That will be inevitable and in most cases will be welcomed. But I believe that we need to develop the culture of actually measuring the actual success of each trip and determining its real benefit for our country, considering that each trip costs Nigeria much. Beyond the direct cost, the opportunity cost of leaving his beat for days must be justified. That is an important but often overlooked aspect of accountability that we demand from our leaders.
  Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR 



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