A recent comment belittling Nigeria’s young people has sparked social media outrage, but this is not the first time.
President Buhari has, in the past, made statements that, if uttered by an ordinary citizen in another context, could be called ‘blunt’. But, coming from the president of a country that desperately needs to improve its global image, it is just bad publicity.
Here are five quotes that show President Buhari is pretty bad at diplomacy.
1. At CHOGM 2018
“More than 60% of population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school & they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit & do nothing & get housing, healthcare, education free,” he said before world leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2018 in the UK.
2. On Nigerians in prisons around the world
“We have an image problem abroad and we are on our way to salvage that. Some Nigerians claim is that life is too difficult back home, but they have also made it difficult for Europeans and Americans to accept them because of the number of Nigerians in prisons all over the world accused of drug trafficking or human trafficking. I don’t think Nigerians have anybody to blame. They can remain at home, where their services are required to rebuild the country,” he said during an interview with The Telegraph.
3. On the political interests of Niger Deltans
When asked about the interest of the Niger Deltans and his plans to tackle amnesty, bunkering and inclusive development at the at the United States Institute of Peace, Buhari replied saying “I hope you have a copy of the election results. The constituents, for example, gave me 97% [of the vote] cannot in all honesty be treated on some issues with constituencies that gave me 5%. I think these [is] political reality but the Delta residents’ interests will be protected.”
4. On the relevance of his wife’s political opinion
President Buhari again stunned the world when in the presence of German Chancellor, Angela Merkel said: "I don't know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen, my living room and the other room."
Merkel, the most powerful woman in the world, stood beside the Nigerian president, glaring at him after he made the statement in front of an international audience.
5. On whether Nigerians are “fantastically corrupt”
In 2016, during the Commonwealth anti-corruption summit in London, David Cameron referred to Nigeria as a fantastically corrupt country when having a chat with Queen Elizabeth II.
Cameron’s comment created furore back home with Buhari’s aides attacking the former English PM and demanding an apology. However, when the Nigerian president was asked if he agreed with Cameron’s comments, he surprised attendees by replying “Yes.”
Then he added, “What do I need an apology for? I need something tangible, the return of assets smuggled into Britain as safe haven.”
Buhari is not a very hot person when it comes to foreign affairs - Obasanjo
Meanwhile, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo said in 2016 that President Buhari is not very hot when it comes to foreign policies or economic matters.
“I will tell you what I know and I will tell you what I don’t know. I know Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. He served under me in the military… If you read my book, what I said about him is correct. He is not a hot person when it comes to economy. He is not a very hot person when it comes to foreign affairs. But he will do well in matters of military and he will do well in fighting Boko Haram,” Obasanjo said.