The Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola, has replied to The Economist article describing President Muhammadu Buhari as corrupt and inept, and the military as strong on paper.
Isola said the newspaper overlooked Buhari’s achievement and the complexities of what the administration is facing, and that pretense is unwise.
“The Economist is correct to point out the multiple security and governance challenges that Nigeria presently faces. But the picture that you present is selective and unfair to your readers.
According to him, the decay of agencies and institutions has gathered momentum for decades.
“There is no quick or simple fix. It is unwise to pretend otherwise.”
He reminded the organisation that President Buhari had been elected twice in national elections and was indeed making progress by working with international partners:
“There has been progress. Nigeria works closely with partners in the Sahel region, Europe and the US on security and intelligence. It is not an accident that the leadership of militant groups is weaker than it has ever been. You highlight the need for police reform: this is a process that President Buhari’s administration has led, including the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). We are already working with the UK and others on training and equipment,” he said.
He also highlighted Nigeria’s robust COVID-19 response as well as the president’s battle to provide stable energy for the country.
“Nigeria has led the region in a robust response to COVID-19 that has helped keep infection levels well below many parts of the world, while also helping to mitigate the economic shocks from the global downturn for the most vulnerable.
President Buhari has also championed reforms to the energy sector, the cradle for corruption, in the teeth of fierce resistance from the old, business-as-usual brigade,” he added.
He said the progress made by the administration in agriculture, creative arts and technology sectors among others does not sit well with corrupt-minded individuals in the country.
“Nigeria is far from being the only country that faces the challenge of trying to deliver overdue change in a political culture that tilts towards special interests that are often selfish and short-term. Optimism in sectors as diverse as agriculture, creative arts and technology point to the opportunities that are already being realised.
“It will be a long haul: a corrupt cabal will say we are not doing enough: what they mean is that we have already done too much, in terms ending the impunity enjoyed by the few and helping to enfranchise the many,” he stated.
Ambassador Isola also mentioned the collaborations that Nigeria is leading in many area to tackle extremism and climate change impact.
“Nor indeed is this simply a Nigerian project. We are on the frontline of the international struggle against violent extremism, climate change and a host of other issues.
“These are common but complex challenges that require common and complex solutions. President Buhari, like millions of Nigerians, rejects the identity politics that has polarised so many other countries. Our diversity is our strength,” he said.