By Temitope Ponle/Isaac Aregbesola
President Muhammadu Buhari’s foreign trips were to re-launch Nigeria in the mind of countries that hitherto distrusted it.
The trips were meant to rebuild Nigeria’s image and restore its past glory.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja that the trips have started yielding positive results.
The results were in the areas of the economy and national security as well as enhancing Foreign Direct Investment.
Looking at Nigeria from when Buhari took over, he said: We had existential security challenges with Boko Haram occupying some territories.’’
“We had rampant corruption and the oil price crashing, so his outreach to the rest of the world was to get the international community to buy into the priorities of the government.
“He identified security as one of it, and on the security you will recall that a number of our traditional allies in the western world stopped cooperating with Nigeria militarily.”
Onyeama said some countries had stopped providing weaponry and pulled out advisers from Nigeria, while troops engaged in mutiny before the Buhari administration.
The president sought to allay the fears of other countries and get them back on board to support government’s security initiatives against Boko Haram.
“On the governance and anti-corruption side, you will also recall large amounts of money stashed away, and a lot of them in the western world.
“So those visits were used to get those foreign countries to buy into the anti-corruption initiative and drive of the government and to help in the restitution of the stolen funds into the country.”
The minister noted that Nigerian faced real economic challenges with the dramatic crash in oil prices which needed urgent attention.
He said that the president’s drive in that context was the diversification of the economy and the promotion of foreign direct investment.
The issues of corruption, security and bottlenecks were things that the listed as focal to government so that they would no longer be disincentive for foreign investment.
“Of course, it is a work in progress and clearly we can see the successes but they are on-going.
“We have seen greater foreign support and buy in to our security challenges and fight against Boko Haram,” Onyeama said.
He said the president was able to get the issue of anti-corruption put at the top of the international agenda.
Onyeama said that Nigeria sponsored a resolution on illicit flow of funds and how countries should prevent it which the UN endorsed.
“With regard to the economy, we have seen the Chinese, for instance, come with big investments into the country.
‘’Also, a number of other countries are engaged with us in trying to promote the profile of Nigeria as a good destination for investment,” he said.