President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday left Nigeria for Istanbul, Turkey to attend the third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit. The President went in company of his wife, Aisha and seven other ministers.
However, the President’s trip is coming on the heels of a very excruciating time for northern Nigeria as terrorists whom Buhari prefers to call bandits continue to raid villages, burn passengers in vehicles, kidnap and gang rape high profile women.
The president’s trip is also coming in the middle of a near historic feat of protest from northern youths who believe the president has not shown enough empathy towards the near devastation happening in the region. On social media and offline, the hashtag #SecureNorth and #NorthisBleeding is trending.
As of Thursday evening, over 32,000 people had signed a petition on Change.Org, calling on the President to declare a state of emergency in parts of Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina due to the insecurity even as the President had refused to visit victims.
During protests , the demonstrators said the President should personally visit communities attacked bandits rather than sending delegates there.
Some northern groups faulted the President’s decision to visit Lagos for the book launch of All Progressives Congress chieftain, Bisi Akande, barely two days after a bus load of passengers were burnt alive by bandits in Sokoto State.
Defending the President on Monday, the Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, said it was impossible for the President to pay condolence visits to victims, adding that sending a delegation was proper.
“These attacks are happening almost on a daily basis and it is not possible for the president to visit all the places for condolences. And if you send a delegation, it is as if you were there, is all the same,” he said.
However, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said in a statement on Thursday that the President had travelled to Turkey for a summit, themed, ‘Enhanced Partnership for Common Development and Prosperity,’ which will be hosted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the Republic of Turkey.
According to the organisers, the summit will review the cooperation between African countries and Turkey since the last summit in 2014.
Shehu said, “The third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit is coming on the heels of President Erdogan’s recent State Visit to Nigeria during which several agreements in the fields of energy, defence industry, mining and hydrocarbons were signed to expand existing bilateral ties.
“The Turkish leader had, during the visit to Nigeria, affirmed his commitment to immediately expand the volume of trade between the two countries to $5bn and the Nigerian delegation will seize the opportunity of the gathering in Istanbul to enhance cooperation with other partners for more trade and investment opportunities in the country.
Shehu added that Buhari would be accompanied on the trip by his wife, Aisha Buhari; the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Defence, Bashir Magashi; FCT, Mohammed Bello; Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; Agriculture, Mohammed Abubakar; Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo; the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Amb. Ahmed Abubakar.