Assessing President Buhari’s Foreign Policy (2015-Present)

The main theme of President Buhari’s foreign policy has been absolute national sovereignty with, tenets of peaceful multilateral diplomacy and foreign relations. This theme characterized by high level diplomatic relations and negotiations, has seen the President Buhari’s administration arguably, successfully connect foreign policy efforts to the accomplishment of domestic priority programmes (security, anti-corruption, economy/job creation).

Muhammadu Buhari GCFR (born 17 December 1942) is a retired Major General in the Nigerian Army and Nigeria’s former Head of State from 31 December 1983 to 27 August 1985, who became the 15th President of Nigeria on 29 May 2015. In Nigeria, he is commonly referred to as President Buhari or Sai Baba or simply PMB. He is a colossus by character and personality, a “converted democrat” dominating many aspects of political life and prevailing, in a decisive manner, in key moments in Nigeria’s rocky history.

President Buhari's Foreign Policy

During his Independence Day speech on October 1st 2016, President Buhari declared;

“All countries, no matter how advanced, welcome foreign investments to their economy. This is the essence of globalization and no country in the 21st century can be an island. Our reforms are therefore designed to prepare Nigeria for the 21st century.”

A defining characteristic of President Buhari’s vision for Nigeria, is the preoccupation with fulfilling the country’s long-standing potential of pulling Nigerians together and realising the common mission of being a great nation as well as restoring the country’s dignity in the comity of nations. President Buhari has on several occasions communicated enthusiastically of Nigeria’s destiny and his determination to restore Nigeria to her rightful place in Africa and the world.

President Buhari's Foreign Policy

Ever since 29 May 2015, President Buhari’s foreign policy or international relations agenda for Nigeria with negotiations largely based on the President’s personal integrity has been largely consistent with the foreign policy objectives of Nigeria as enshrined in Section 19 of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which can be summarised as follows:

  1. Promotion and protection of Nigeria’s national interest by a united people capable of doing what is right for the country as well as commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  2. Promotion of African integration and support for African unity by being ready to play any leadership role that Africa expects of it;
  3. Promotion of international co-operation for the consolidation of universal peace and mutual respect among all nations and elimination of discrimination in all its manifestations through readiness to cooperate and help to combat threats of cross-border terrorism, sea piracy, refugees and boat people, financial crime, cyber-crime, climate change, the spread of communicable diseases and other challenges of the 21st century;
  4. Respect for international law and treaty obligations as well as the seeking of settlement of international disputes by negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and adjudication; through committed to the revival of Lake Chad and improvement of the hydrology and ecology of the basin. This will tune in with efforts to rehabilitate the thirty million people affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in the Lake Chad basin countries;
  5. Promotion of a just world economic order by attracting foreign investments in a reformed and business friendly environment required by the 21st century.

These agenda/frameworks however, comprise of the primary substance of the Nigerian foreign policy, which provides the platform for analyzing and interpreting Nigeria’s foreign policies under President Buhari from 29 May 2015 to date.

President Buhari’s Foreign Policy Agenda Accomplishment Underachievement Ongoing
Protection of Nigeria’s national interest by a united people capable of doing what is right for the country Open Government Partnership (OGP) membership PMB not speaking to Nigerians because he has the ‘right to his vacation, we don’t need to intrude.’ Nuclear PDA with Russia
Mining Sector Cooperation with SA Insecurity of Nigerians abroad (SA)
Mining and Geoscience MoU with China Foreign missions without Heads/Ambassadors for 2 years
Ratification of WTO trade facilitation agreement Forceful repatriation of Nigerians by Cameroon
Ending child marriage by 2030
Tripartite Agreement for the Voluntary Repatriation of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon
$6bn loan and a currency swap deal with China
Signed International Energy Charter
Support for African unity by being ready to play any leadership role that Africa expects of it Chief Mediator in the Gambia democratic impasse Approved construction contract for Cameroon-Nigeria border link bridge
Ratified Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Treaty
Signed AU Niamey Convention on Cross-Border Cooperation
Signed CFTA agreement with Egypt, Kenya & SA
Commitment to peace & AU’s intervention in South Sudan
Readiness to cooperate and help to combat threats and challenges of the 21st century Signed & ratified Paris Agreement on Climate Change to reduce “Green House Gas Emissions unconditionally by 20% & conditionally by 45%” Success of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) against Boko Haram
Intelligence sharing with the U.S with an intelligence sharing mechanism in Abuja. Repatriation of $321 million confiscated funds by Switzerland from Sani Abacha.
Collaboration with Lake Chad Basin countries & the multinational troops against Boko Haram Ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury
3 criminal extradition MoUs with Italy
ICC membership commitment
Judicial agreements on extradition, legal, criminal and commercial matters with the UAE
Acquisition & cross servicing agreement with the USA
Repatriation of stolen assets MoU with the UK
Respect for international law and treaty obligations
*commitment to environmental sustainability of Lake Chad basin
Signed “One China’ Policy Violation of ECOWAS court ruling on Sambo Dasuki Calls for financial commitments for & implementation of the Lake Chad Development Resilience Action Plan.
Reiterated support for demarcated Nigeria-Cameroon border
Donors pledge $672 million for famine in Nigeria & Lake Chad
Attracting foreign investments in a reformed and business friendly environment required by the 21st century Avoidance of double taxation agreement with the UAE Nigeria to issue 20 billion Naira Green Bond by first quarter 2017
Avoidance of double taxation agreement with Singapore
Agreement on trade promotion & protection with the UAE
Visa on arrival into Nigeria for business purposes
Investors’ match-making database
MoU with Arla Foods to boost diary production
Revised inter-connectivity/transit MoU with Customs of Republic Benin
President Buhari’s Foreign Policy (2015-PRESENT): Your Opinion!

Therefore, from your experiences, insights, observations and understanding, do you believe President Buhari’s foreign policy is accomplishing or underachieving its goals and objectives?

President Buhari's Foreign Policy (2015-Present)

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