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Commonwealth presidents Buhari and Ramaphosa: One seems to lack common sense

Will Buhari learn this leadership lesson from Cyril Ramaphosa?

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari and his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa were in London with other rulers of the Commonwealth for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which is meant to run from 16 to 20 April (ending later today).

Ramaphosa has had to cut short his attendance of the summit to return home to deal with violent protests.  Clashes have taken place in the country’s North West province, with protesters demanding jobs, housing and an end to corruption.  Shops have been looted, with roads blocked and some vehicles set alight.  So far, there has been no reported deaths.

But this was enough for Ramaphosa to leave the London jamboree, especially as he has been trying to woo foreign investment in South Africa during his visit to the UK.

Commonwealth heads of government at Buckingham Palace yesterday

Buhari also claims to be trying to attract investment in Nigeria.  Unlike the other rulers at the summit, he was already in London a week before the meeting began, on 9 April.  Since Buhari arrived in the UK:

  • Six Tiv farmers have been killed in Benue State by Fulani herdsmen on Wednesday this week
  • The Chembe community in the same state was sacked by Fulani herdsmen with their village head killed on Tuesday
  • 32 people were killed in the southern part of Nassarawa State on Monday
  • Last week violent protests by members of the Shi’ite Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) shutdown the capital, Abuja.  22 policemen were injured, with one IMN member reportedly killed.  The movement claims that 30 of their members are missing.  They were protesting the continued detention of their leader Ibraheem Zakzaky, who has been in custody since December 2015, following a raid of his compound by soldiers, which resulted in over 300 people being killed.
  • Yesterday soldiers burnt up to 300 homes in Naka, Gwer Local Government Area of Benue State in retaliation for the alleged killing of a soldier on Wednesday by some “youths” in the town.

None of these violent deaths have prompted a response from Buhari, let alone cutting short his visit, as he wines and dines with Queen Elizabeth and Theresa May.  As a matter of fact, Buhari has never let any of Nigeria’s regular outbreaks of violence get in the way of a foreign junket.  He just doesn’t seem to get how the endless violence and his inaction contribute to deterring the investors he claims he wants to attract.

It’s still not clear when Buhari plans to return from his current London jolly.  What is clear is that he is very unlikely to borrow a leaf from Ramaphosa.

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