Nigeria was becoming a “pariah state” under former President Goodluck Jonathan, and President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent foreign trips seek to reverse that status and drive investment, Information Minister Lai Mohammed has said.
Nigerian ministers on Wednesday reviewed President Buhari’s recent foreign trips, and defended the president against criticisms that the trips had become too frequent and frivolous and of no value to a nation facing multiple crises.
Mr. Mohammed, and the Minister for Environment, Amina Mohammed, who spoke to journalists after the Federal Executive Council meeting, said the trips were meant to attract investments to Nigeria.
“You do not run a country by being isolated and the personal presence of the president in many of these fora is very important because before now we were almost a pariah state and the two things that have been driving investments away from this country are terrorism and corruption,” Mr. Mohammed said.
“One thing that nobody can fault this president on is his determination to fight these two ills. Mr President’s presence in these fora is very crucial even to the economy back at home.
“Before now the level of corruption was very high that nobody was ready to risk his investment in Nigeria. The cost of doing business was so high that most international businessmen didn’t want to come here. Who is coming to invest in a country where there is insecurity?
Mr. Buhari has lately been criticised for his frequent foreign trips at a time the nation faces severe economic troubles.
Since assuming office in May 2015, he had made at least 19 trips to 14 countries.
The environment minister, Ms. Mohammed, said that “investments” secured by Mr. Buhari justified the trips.
“We hope to see the president going out and advocating for this country to get more investment so that we can take everyone out of poverty. That is really what is important. We see it as an investment with a return worthwhile,” she said.
She said the country will get back on track once the 2016 budget is passed by the National Assembly.