President Muhammadu Buhari had embarked on 30 foreign trips since his inauguration about a year ago, according to PUNCH.
Investigations showed that the President travelled abroad 17 times in 2015 and 13 times this year, so far.
An analysis showed that Buhari travelled out of the country four times in June 2015; three times each in September 2015 and November 2015; twice each in July and December 2015; and once each in August and October 2015.
Shortly after his inauguration, Buhari on June 3 and 4, 2015 travelled to the Niger Republic and Chad Republic for consultations on how to tackle terrorism in the country and the region.
On June 7, 2015, he travelled to Germany to attend the G-7 summit and proceeded to South Africa on June 13, 2015 for the African Union Summit in continuation of talks on anti-terrorism fight.
In July 2015, the President embarked on a four-day official visit to the United States of America on the 19th and proceeded to Cameroon for a two-day visit on the 29th.
The only foreign trip he made in August 2015 was a one-day visit to Benin Republic on August 1.
That visit was also for the continuation of talks on the Boko Haram sect.
In September 2015, Buhari embarked on a one-day visit to Ghana on the 7th; a three-day official visit to France on the 14th and travelled to New York for the 70th United Nations General Assembly on September 24.
The only trip he made in October 2015 was when he travelled to New Delhi in India on October 27 for the Indian-African Forum.
On November 22, 2015, the President travelled to Tehran, Iran for the third Gas Exporting Countries’ Forum; on November 26 he proceeded to Malta to participate in the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting while he travelled to Paris, France on November 29 for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
On December 3, 2015, Buhari went to South Africa to participate in the Forum on China/Africa Cooperation in Johannesburg while he travelled to the Republic of Benin on December 10 for the funeral rites of late President Mathieu Kerekou.
The President travelled out of the country four times in January 2016.
The trips included the one he embarked on January 8 to Cotonou, Benin Republic for a meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the Niger Basin Authority; his January 17 three-day official visit to the United Arab Emirates; his January 27 three-day official visit to Kenya; and his January 29 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s trip for the 26th Summit of African Union Heads of State and Government.
Buhari embarked on foreign trips five times in February 2016.
They included his February 2 trip to Strasbourg, France to address a special session of the European Union Parliament; his February 3 trip to London for Supporting Syria and The Region Conference; his February 19 trip to Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt to participate in the Business for Africa, Egypt and the World Forum; his February 22 trip to Saudi Arabia for talks with King Salman Al Saud and lesser hajj, as well as his February 29 trip to Doha, Qatar for talks with Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Al Thani.
In March 2016, Buhari travelled twice. He travelled on March 14 to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea for conclusion of agreement on Joint Maritime Policing and on March 29 to Washington DC for the 4th Nuclear Security Summit.
He travelled on April 10 to the People’s Republic of China for a one-week official trip; and on May 9 for an Anti-corruption summit organised by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, in London.
In the wake of the criticisms that trailed the trips, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, had published an opinion in which he explained that Buhari’s foreign trips were not for enjoyment.
He explained that Buhari had slashed the number of members of his delegations on the trips “to a tolerable or the bearable minimum.”
He claimed that the President went to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2016 with 32 officials in his delegation, including his cook, doctor and luggage officer while, according to him, former President Goodluck Jonathan went to the same meeting with 150 officials and family members in 2014.
He also said that wherever they were given government accommodation and feeding, members of Buhari’s entourage received reduced allowances, thereby saving the government some money.
Justifying the trips further, Shehu said, “In public diplomacy, experts say that it is better conducted through face-to-face interaction than through third parties. This is even more so at the level of heads of state.
“To do it by proxy is to miss the effect of fostering strong interpersonal relations between leaders, by which nations benefit.”