By Stephen Ubanna
President Muhammadu Buhari visits to the United States on the invitation of Donald Trump appears to have revealed how the United states had been giving $1 billion in foreign aid annually to Nigeria . The US President may have opened because he felt his country needed something in return from Nigeria for the financial aids. ”We think we are owed that”, Trump had said.
Trump revelation of the US $1 billion yearly financial aid to Nigeria may had come as a surprise to many who are still at a loss over what to make out of the aid as there is no trace of its impact on the nation’s economy which is still experiencing a slow growth in spite of the government projection of seven percent by the year 2020. Worse of it , the World Band the International Monetary Fund, IMF, put the country’s growth rate at two percent, which is very discouraging.
Perhaps to upstage the Asian country of China from its domination of the Nigeria economy, the US president was said to have asked Buhari to” remove all trade barriers to allow additional US investment in Nigeria”, assuring that the US will be investing substantially in the country if the government could create a level playing field .
Indications are rife that that Trump has given the nod to four US Companies led by General Electric an opportunity to invest an estimated $2 billion to modernize the country’s rail network between Lagos and the ancient city of Kano, and between Port Harcourt and Maiduguri, the operational of the Islamic Fundamentalists, BokoHaram in Borno state.
It was learnt that the US aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, are also warming up to supply aircrafts for the planned Nigeria airline project which had been on drawing board over the years. Hadi Serika, minister of state, Aviation, is optimistic that with the deal struck with Boeing, the proposed airline will be the largest in Africa.
The Buhari visits to US may have also opened discussion with the Export-Import Bank of the US and its Overseas Private Investment Corporation, O PIC for financing arrangements for projects in the country.
A Nigerian based in US, told the Magazine that as at 2015, the US, foreign direct investment, FID, in the country was about $55 billion. The US based Nigerian said the US FID could have been more than that both for the US president disparaging remarks Describing African nations as ”shithole countries”, which may have scared many potential investors from coming to Nigeria and other African countries to invest.
Many had expected Buhari to confront the US President with the disparaging remarks on African which was said to be scaring foreign investors away from the African nations, but he was said to have carefully avoided the topic , professing mutual respect for each other and their respective countries at a cordial news conference. He may have avoided confronting Trump on the disparaging remarks to avoid losing US investors that may be coming to Nigeria to invest and the yearly billion dollars financial aid from the US..
Many believe that President Buhari has never failed to use any available opportunity to woo foreign investors to come to Nigeria and invest. At the last Commonwealth heads of Government meeting in Britain, he was said to have promised a $15 billion investment into the country, which the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had described as a bogus claim that would never see the light of the day.
It would be recalled that the D8 meeting i at Istanbul, Capital of Turkey, on October, 2017, he had urged the D8 leaders to prioritise incentives and measures aimed at increasing trade and investment among member nations. he had expected that by interacting with the world leaders from the industrialized nations, it would translate to improved FID in Nigeria but that was far, he could go.
It is not surprising why he is very happy with the promises extracted from President Trump to increase US FID in Nigeria.
Indeed, what may have gladdened his heart so much was the break -through in getting the approval of the US President for the supply of the $600 million military aircrafts and other security equipment, that was said to had been stalled by the Barack Obama administration.
It was said to had been stalled over allegations that the Nigeria military has been involved in human rights violation and extra judicial killings in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe sates, in the north east geo-political region, the operation base of BokoHaram insurgents.
Trump confirmed that the US had entered into a very” big trade deal with Nigeria and are also working on the supply of military equipment – helicopters and the like to fight terrorism in the country”. ” We are very grateful to the US for agreeing to give us the aircraft we had asked for including spare parts”, Buhari nodded in approval, stressing that ”security is the major problem of Nigeria”.
The US President may have stepped in fully into the Nigeria crisis with the incessant killing of Christians by BokoHaram insurgents and those masquerading as herdsmen in Plateau, Borno, Niger, Taraba and Nasarawa states. This is in addition to killing of Christians and other innocent citizens in Adamawa and Zamfara states.
At a closed door meeting , Trump was said to have told Buhari unequivocally, ”we have had serious problems with Christians who have been killed in Nigeria”. An aggrieved US President had declared, ” we are going to be working on that problem, and working on that problem very, very hard, because we can’t allow that to happen again”.
Recently armed herdsmen killed scores of worshipers and two priests at a Catholic Church at Ukpor village in Gwer East Local government Area of Benue that attracted international attention forcing Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff, Ibrahim Idris, Inspector General of Police, IGP, and Mamman Lawal Daura, the Director General, Department of State Security, DSS, to mobilize their men into action.
The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, have mobilized their members for nation-wide peaceful protest to express their anger over the killing of Christians , particular in Benue state while calling the government to increase efforts towards the arrest and prosecution of the armed herdsmen, as measure for curtailing the incessant killings.
The Association had said the killings by the armed herdsmen had persisted because of government inability to positively arrest the situation, noting that the” country is gradually turning into a state of anomie” which analysts see as an indictment on Buhari and his security team. CAN may have stopped short of calling Buhari and his security team comprising of the ministers of Dense, Brig. general Mansur. minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazzau, Mohammed Babagana Munguno, National Security Adviser, Mamman Lawal Daura, Director General, Department of State Security, DSS, iBrahim Idris, Inspector General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Magu, acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC among others.
CAN’s threat of a nationwide peaceful protest may have facilitate the recent raid at a suspected armed herdsmen militia Camp by troops of the 707 Special Force. the Special Force were said to be on patrol of the Guma Local Government when information filtered out about the existence of the herdsmen militia Camp in the area. and The Special Force were said to have arrested alleged four kingpins of the killer herdsmen , who are currently helping the Army, Police and DSS in their investigation to track others who are on the run.