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Truth or Lai: One or two gains from US visit

Lai’s list of what Nigeria gained from Buhari’s US trip

The All Progressive Congress (APC) publicity secretary Lai Mohammed took part in a Lagos TV station debate whether President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent US visit was “fruitless”.

Mohammed said there were gains in four areas – diplomacy, economy, security and anti-corruption.

The gains from the visit according to Mohammed included being invited to the US within two months of the new adminstration. He claimed that this was unprecendented. It was not quite clear how a visit, by itself, translated into a gain.

Another “gain” for Mohammed was what he called a “ringing endorsement” from Barack Obama. He went on to claim that Buhari addressed five US cabinet secretaries and that this sort of reception was “unheard of”.

On security, the gain was “a promise of assistance, and a firm assurance on training” Nigerian troops. It wasn’t quite apparent how a presidential visit was required for what seemed like routine stuff that could be done via normal diplomatic channels.

On the economy, Mohammed said the trip secured $4.2bn investment from the “Baker Group” for agriculture and the power sector. There was also a $2.1bn loan from the World Bank for investment in the northeastern part of Nigeria that has borne the brunt of the Boko Haram insurgency. It was also claimed that 20 US companies agreed to come to Nigeria on a “trade delegation”.

Mohammed concluded by claiming that the US promised to cooperate with Nigeria in the fight against corruption.

The Peoples Democratic Party spokesman on the programme accused the government of suffering from “colonial mentality” and not acting like an independent nation in begging for help.

It was clear that the only points that could be remotely described as tangible from the US visit were the $4.2bn investment and the $2.1bn loan.

Whether those amounts bear fruit for Nigeria would require a forensic examination of the details. World Bank loans come with severe health warnings. Nigeria has had a few of them in the past, with not much benefit trickling down to ordinary Nigerians. The same could be said for other forms of foreign investment.

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