Everyone knows that President Muhammadu Buhari doesn’t joke with his foreign trips. Criticise him if you want, but before your ink dries up his media office usually has another statement informing you of the next trip. In one year, Buhari has visited almost two dozen countries and spent the equivalent of two and a half months outside the country.
Of course, he continues to believe strongly that every trip he’s made is necessary, unavoidable and in our best interest.
However, in the last two weeks, it appears that there’s been a minor shift. It’s too early to say for sure if it’s just a passing phase or here to stay though.
Consider this: Before May, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had only represented Buhari outside the country twice in 2016. First in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and then in April at the swearing in of the Nigerien president Issoufou Mahamadou.
In the past two weeks however, Osinbajo has travelled more than he has since January. He was in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea for the inauguration of President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo on May 20. On May 23, Osinbajo represented Nigeria at the African Development Bank’s 51st Annual General Meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, participating in a couple of high level panels.
Today, Osinbajo is off to Papua New Guinea where he will represent Buhari at the 8th Summit of Heads of States of African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States holding from May 30 to June 1.
If you also factor in the cancellation of Buhari’s working visit to Lagos state where he was eventually represented by Osinbajo on May 22, then maybe we need to ask the question: What’s up with the president?
Is he growing weary of the frequent trips? Is he finally listening to the complaints by Nigerians about their excessiveness? Has someone finally convinced him, the same way he got convinced over the fuel price increase and forex policy? Or was he convinced by his health – reports following his cancelled Lagos trip put it down to an ailment.
Anyway, what we know is that Osinbajo will join leaders from 78 other countries to address the ACP summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea which will discuss the future of the ACP Group as a “revitalised cohesive force advocating the interests of its member states in the international arena.”
A statement from the Secretariat of the organization added that discussions at the summit will also review recent key international developments, including Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, issues of migration, climate change and the fight against terrorism.
One of the main objectives of the ACP group is the “sustainable development of its Member-States and their gradual integration into the global economy, which entails making poverty reduction a matter of priority and establishing a new, fairer, and more equitable world order.”
“The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) is an organisation created by the Georgetown Agreement in 1975. It is composed of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific states, with all of them, save Cuba, signatories to the Cotonou Agreement, also known as the ‘ACP-EC Partnership Agreement’ which binds them to the European Union. There are 48 countries from Sub-Saharan Africa, 16 from the Caribbean and 15 from the Pacific,” in the ACP.
Osinbajo will return to Nigeria on Thursday.