Takeaways From Tinubu’s Trip to Riyadh and Hague, By Temitope Ajayi

Since his first trip abroad as President of Nigeria to Paris in June last year, where he joined other world leaders at the New Global Financial Pact Summit convened by President Emmanuel Macron, President Bola Tinubu has undertaken many other important trips where he has drawn global attention to the new realities in Nigeria and indeed Africa.

On those trips, he emerged as the chief salesman of Nigeria and Africa.

Like his previous travels where he had forcefully spoken, with admiration, on behalf of Nigeria or for West Africa as Chairman of ECOWAS Authority of Head of States and Government and at the United Nations General Assembly and COP28 in Dubai, President Tinubu has not failed to use the available opportunity to send the right message to the world of the immense possibilities to do great things when the developed nations and global business leaders partner Africa, and Nigeria, in particular in a mutually-beneficial way.

It was the same message of partnership, collaboration, investment opportunity, shared prosperity, and sustainability that he took to the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia.

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Both at The Hague, where he met the Prime Minister, the Royal family and business leaders and in Riyadh, where he participated actively at the Special Meeting of the World Economic Forum, President Tinubu was regal in his carriage and convincing in appeal.

Here are the key takeaways from the trips:

1. Thursday, 25th of April, President Tinubu led the Nigerian delegation to the Nigeria-Netherlands Business and Investment Forum. He used the opportunity to reinforce the more robust economic and diplomatic ties between the two countries. He used the occasion to sell his Renewed Hope Agenda, harping on the favourable investment climate now in Nigeria and the reforms he has undertaken to promote a stronger and more resilient economy where businesses can thrive. In his call to action, he invited investors from the Netherlands to come and reap bountifully from any investment they make in Nigeria. During his bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Mark Rutte at his official residence, President Tinubu was at his best element as a salesman. He told the PM of the abundant human and natural resources available in Nigeria, especially the energetic, enterprising, and resourceful young people who are breaking barriers and excelling across the world in their various fields. On his part, the Prime Minister said Dutch investors were ready for a fresh $250 million investment in Nigeria and another $100 million in a waste-to-wealth industrial facility in Lagos State.

2. At a high-level panel discussion at the World Economic Forum Special Meeting on Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy for Development in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital, President Tinubu held his audience spellbound.

On the same panel, with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Prime Minister of Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim, and the Managing Director of International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Geogieva, President Tinubu spoke on the imperatives of building global collaboration and cooperation to deal with some of the problems confronting humanity.

He called on the global community and more prosperous nations to pay more attention to Africa and the Sahel region of West Africa.

He said: “I am glad the world is recognising the need for cooperation and that with the type of population growth that Africa is experiencing, the diversity of its resources must be married with economic opportunity. We must collaborate to achieve that.

“We are encouraging the entire world to pay attention to the Sahel and the other countries around us. As the Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, I have wielded the big influence of Nigeria to discourage all unconstitutional changes of government. Equally, we have eased the sanctions. We need to trade with one another, not fight each other. It is very necessary and compulsory for us to engender growth, stability, and economic prosperity for our people in West Africa.

“The rest of the world needs to look at the fundamentals of the problem; not just geopolitically, but at the root. Has the world paid attention to the poverty level in the Sahel and the rest of ECOWAS? Have they facilitated the infusion of capital and paid adequate attention to ensuring the exploration of resources and the creation of opportunities presented by the mineral resources available?

“Are we going to play a big-brother role in a talk shop without taking necessary action? We just have to be involved in the promotion and prosperity of that region in order to see peace, stability, and economic growth.”

3. Engagement with Moller-Maersk Delegation: A key highlight of the President’s participation at the WEF in Riyadh was a sideline meeting with Robert Maersk Uggla, Chairman of the Danish shipping and logistics giant, and his team. The meeting focused on the company’s existing business in Nigeria and the prospect of future new investment to expand port infrastructure in Nigeria to accommodate bigger ships. The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, recently announced a $ 1 billion ports expansion and modernisation programme to take care of dilapidated infrastructure at the Western and Eastern seaports. President Tinubu welcomed the genuine interest of AP Moller-Maersk in Nigeria and the company’s willingness to make new investments. He expressed his appreciation to the Chairman for his company’s contribution to Nigeria’s economy over time, assuring him that Nigeria and his government would not take the country’s partners for granted.

-Ajayi is Senior Special Assistant to President Tinubu on Media and Publicity

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