On Wednesday the 29th of August, 2018, British Prime Minister, Theresa May, visited Nigeria with a plane full of business people to help Britain make money in Nigeria. So meticulously choreographed was her visit, that she came with businessmen and women that sold or manufactured every item you could imagine from air fresheners to Scotch whiskey.
Mrs May, who I met twice last year, demonstrated the main thrust of her visit by travelling with David Schwimmer, the Chief Executive of the London Stock Exchange. Her entourage to Nigeria was chockfull of business and industry folk and very lean on civil servants and politicians.
In fact, only two members of her cabinet joined her on her African trip. If there was any spare space on the Royal Airforce Jet that flew her to Africa, that space was reserved for people who could bring jobs and capital to Britain.
Even though a day earlier, Mrs May had regretted that Nigeria is home to the largest number of extremely poor people in the world, she still took her time to meet the few extremely rich people in Nigeria and introduced them to the businesspeople on her entourage.
She met for 40 minutes with an assortment of Nigerian business leaders like Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, along with Femi Otedola and Tony Elumelu. Mrs May did not come to play. She came to pay. Pay Britain mind you. Not Nigeria.
Not to be undone, her German counterpart, Chancellor Angela Merkel, flew into Nigeria two days after Mrs May.
When Nigeria’s ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Tuggar, was asked why Mrs Merkel was visiting Nigeria, he said “She is coming with a business delegation which is very important. We have strong economic relations with Germany over the years. But one of the major challenges in recent times has been how to attract German medium-size businesses to invest in Nigeria.”
Note that Mrs Merkel led a “business delegation” to Nigeria, not a political delegation, even though the Mediterranean Migrant Crisis (please watch my TEDxApata talk on this issue) played heavily on her mind.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, August 31, 2018, the Nigerian Presidency announced that Muhammadu Buhari, who is the President of Nigeria, the world headquarters for extreme poverty (according to the World Economic Forum and the World Poverty Clock), is on his way to China, the second largest economy on earth.
Expectedly, the Presidency released a list of Mr Buhari’s entourage and for your benefit, I will simply republish the part of the official statement detailing President Buhari’s entourage below;
“President Buhari will be accompanied to Beijing by his wife, Aisha, who is scheduled to participate in a Spouses’ Programme on China-Africa at the Great Hall of the People, under the theme, “Joining Hands for a Future of AIDS.”
Also on the President’s entourage are Governors Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar (Bauchi), Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa) and Rochas Okorocha (Imo).
Others are Senators Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa), George Akume (Benue), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto).
Also accompanying the president are: Ministers Geoffrey Onyeama (Foreign Affairs), Rotimi Amaechi (Transport), Babatunde Fashola (Power, Works and Housing), Muhammad Bello (FCT), Okechukwu Enelamah (Industry, Trade and Investment), Udoma Udo Udoma (Budget and National Planning), Suleiman Adamu (Water Resources); Ibe Kachikwu (State, Petroleum Resources), and Hadi Sirika (State, Aviation).
Others are the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar; and the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Maikanti Baru.”
Observe that President Buhari’s entourage is full of his ministers, Governors, the GMD NNPC and other civil servants. Not ONE business person is on the entourage!
Let that sink in for a minute. Or perhaps two minutes.
Do you now see why Nigeria is the world’s headquarters for extreme poverty and why the U.K. and Germany are poster nations for extreme wealth?
It all boils down to leadership. A leader is either a catalyst for growth or a lid that prevents growth. Muhammadu Buhari is the latter.
A mere three years ago, Nigeria was the third fastest growing economy in the world because we had a President who loaded his entourage with business people whenever he visited foreign nations.
Former President Jonathan not only travelled with Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, Tony Elumelu, Aig Imokhuede amongst others, he also included cultural icons from Nollywood and Nigeria’s blossoming pop music scene on his entourage.
For instance, Aliko Dangote was on former President Jonathan’s September 2013 entourage to Kenya (where Dangote now has massive investments) and had this to say about Mr Jonathan in Nairobi:
“I want to tell you what the president has been doing in Nigeria. He is very humble and may not want to sing about what he has been doing.
I will tell you what he has been doing to Nigerians and to some of us who are in business in Nigeria. We are very grateful for some of the policies he has introduced.
As you all know, without good policies of government, there is no way a person like me from a big town like Kano can rise from a humble beginning to become the 25th richest person on earth.
Without the policies of the president and also making sure that there is consistency in the policies of the government, this could not have happened.”
Which Nigerian businessman can say that of President Buhari today? When Dangote made that statement, he was worth $25 billion. Today, after three and s half years of Buhari, the same Dangote is now worth $12.4 billion. Less than half what he was worth a mere four years ago!
I am yet to hear of a President like Muhammadu Buhari, who rather than go abroad to project his country positively, would rather go overseas to demarket the economy he should promote.
When Theresa May visited Nigeria, she promoted Nigerians by wearing a jacket made by Emmanuel Okoro, a Nigerian designer. But when does Buhari, our own President, promote Nigeria? He goes abroad for medical treatments and while there he calls our youth “lazy” and our adults “criminals”.
Have you ever heard of Emmanuel Okoro before today? If not for Mrs May, I would never have heard of him. There are leaders and there are leaders!
And it was rather amusing to watch President Buhari introducing one government official after another to Mrs May and Mrs Merkel. Rather amusing indeed. What are those salary earners and civil servants going to discuss with the business elite those two great women brought with them? Pitiful really.
It is such a pity that the four highlights of Buhari Presidency have been that:
- Nigeria had her first recession in 25 years under Buhari
- Nigeria became the world headquarters for extreme poverty under Buhari
- Nigeria made her worst ever performance on Transparency International’s CPI under Buhari
- The Naira became the 4th worst performing currency in the world under Buhari
And the reason that Nigeria is poor is not because we have poverty of resources. It is because we have poverty of leadership. You see, no matter how much resources a man has, it will never be enough if he does not know how to use them.
Introducing Reno’s Darts:
If Davido, a billionaire son, a multimillionaire in his own right and an international music superstar who has made and continues to make Nigeria proud, can serve his nation in the compulsory National Youth Service Corp, then why didn’t Kemi Adeosun serve? And why is Buhari protecting her? And how can you continue to lie to yourself that Buhari has integrity? #RenosDarts
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