Wednesday, March 31, 2004

George Bush Invites Buhari to America

An ... interesting development. Buhari is probably the least democratic Nigerian alive, so anyone inviting him to visit has to do so with his eyes wide open. Still, this might have a salutary effect in restraining the worst impulses of Buhari's supporters, if the prospect of having good relations with the White House means anything to Buhari. There can few things more flattering to someone in his position than to have the ear of the American President, his Secretary of State and his National Security adviser.

Opposition leader and presidential candidate of the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP) in the 2003 general elections, Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd), has been invited to Washington by the US President, George W. Bush.

The invitation, according to sources this morning, follows America's increasing concern about the spate of political assassinations, repression and electoral violence in Nigeria.

ources hinted that General Buhari is expected to leave Nigeria and will meet Secretary of State, Colin Powell and National Security Adviser, Condoleeza Rice, apart from President Bush.

General Buhari will be accompanied on the trip by former Army chief, Gen. Victor Malu, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, Miss Joy Yowika, a lawyer, Mr. Sam Mbah Isaiah and AVM Mukhtar Muhammed.

Also on the entourage is Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, the ANPP governorship candidate in Ondo State.

"The meeting is not unconnected with America's concern about democracy in Nigeria and its direction," said a source close to the ANPP presidential candidate in the 2003 general elections.

It's good to see American concern for stability in West Africa extend beyond the usual after-the-fact wrangling in the United Nations about how to best handle some disaster or another - though I'm sure that Nigeria's position as the world's 6th largest oil exporter, in a period of high oil prices, does have a little bit to do with this solicitous attitude.