President Buhari's meeting with US President Donald Trump was a decent one. Both presidents deserve some accolades.
Remarkably different from the Trump who said Nigerians “live in huts” back home.
The Trump who addressed the press alongside the Nigerian leader even promised to visit Nigeria. This Trump even called Nigeria a “beautiful country”.
“I would like to visit Nigeria. I’d like very much like to visit Nigeria. It’s an amazing country and in certain ways I heard from the standpoint of a beauty of a country, there’s no country more beautiful, so I would like to”, Trump said.
It was politically correct flattery and hyperbole; and he may not have meant a word of what he said, but that's sometimes okay at these kinds of meetings.
Spotting dark shades, Buhari was asked what he made of Trump’s shithole remarks at the time.
“I am very careful with what the press says about people other than myself. I am not sure about the validity of whether that allegation against the president was true or not. So, the best thing for me is to keep quiet”, Buhari said.
Of course he was being diplomatic and that’s fine.
Trump didn’t deny or accept that he had called Nigeria shithole. “We didn’t discuss it”, the Donald said.
“You do have some countries that are in very bad shape and very tough places to live in. But we didn’t discuss it because the president knows me and he knows where I’m coming from and I appreciate that. We did not discuss it”, Trump added.
Trump also pledged that the US will help Nigeria root out a decade long Boko Haram insurgency, he was concerned about the herdsmen crisis that has led to killings of Christians back in Nigeria and described the kidnap of schoolgirls as “tough stuff”.
The US President also solicited Nigeria’s support for America’s 2026 World Cup bid.
“I hope all African countries and countries throughout the world, that we will also be supporting you and that they will likewise support us in our bid, along with Canada and Mexico, for the 2026 World Cup.
“We will be watching very closely and any help that can give us in that bid we would appreciate”, Trump said.
It was an ethically questionable remark, given that world football governing body FIFA, frowns at political interference in its processes.
Overall, this was a good meeting from a Nigerian standpoint. His shithole remarks aside, Trump hasn’t been openly derisive of Nigeria. He has also shown time and again that he recognizes Nigeria’s pre-eminent position as leader of the African continent and the most populous black nation in the world.
He really sounds like he wants to do business with Nigeria and smoothen America's relationship with Africa's biggest market.
Trump and Buhari just held a meeting where the leader of the free world said all the nice things about Nigeria. It also was a meeting where President Buhari stayed on message and acquitted himself admirably on the world stage.
This meeting was surely a sign of good things to come if action is allowed to match words for once.
Fingers crossed on this one.