President Buhari disbursed millions towards 2018 and 2019 elections in Guinea Bissau a Dataphyte Report has revealed.
Now while some maintain it was in Nigeria’s best interest given their position in ECOWAS, how beneficial was this to Nigeria? The report asks.
Nigeria needs to review her policies on foreign aid, ensuring it produces tangible benefits, not just ‘acts of charity’. This sentiment echoes across developed nations like the UK and United States.
In 2019, Nigeria supported the Republic of Guinea-Bissau with ₦164,074,500 as election support. The transaction read, “Payment to Republic of Guinea-Bissau’s as an Appeal for Nigeria’s Financial Support to Conduct its Presidential Re-Run Elections. As per AIE No. A01-00006742.”
According to data on the Open Treasury Portal, the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation made the payment on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
A similar transaction was noted in 2018.
Back then, it was $500,000 (₦153m) together with electoral kits worth ₦489.3m and vehicles. This did not go down with PDP Chieftain and Vice President Atiku. He questioned President Buhari’s decision, insisting that such funds would serve well if channeled to meet the needs of the internally displaced persons.
A step in the right direction, Expert says
For human rights activist Chidi Odinkalu, the aid was in Nigeria’s best interest and signaled a step in the right direction for the Buhari-led administration. He did, however, note that these contributions need not be at the expense of citizens welfare.
“As the biggest economy in the region, Nigeria is also the biggest funder of ECOWAS and has heightened self-interest in ensuring a stable region. If there is no stable govt in Bissau, Nigeria will remain mired there and unable to pull out its troops stationed as part of ECOMIB, costing the country a lot more money than we have put into those elections.”
How beneficial are Nigeria’s Policies on Foreign Aid
Following election in Guinea Bissau and Umaro Cissoko Embalo’s victory, he visited Nigeria to thank President Buhari for his support.
The latter pledged continual support to Guinea Bissau. But is this a promise to steep given the current economic climate? Even more concerning are Nigeria’s policies on foreign aid as a whole.
In truth, current economic conditions ought to serve as a reflective pause for Africa’s self-acclaimed giant on how she plays her big sister role to other Sub-Saharan States. Philanthropy and good will is great, but interest that goes beyond a stable region should be the goal.
Nigeria is now the biggest economy in Africa, recently surpassing South Africa; its 40% contribution featuring over $1.17bn in 16 years to ECOWAS speaks to that fact. Nonetheless, in the last decade, can she point out any benefit received beyond the status of Africa’s largest economy?
Instead, for all her ‘kindness’, her traders are facing hostility in Ghana. Bear in mind, just a year ago, the First Bank of Nigeria donated GH¢20,000 to aid in Ghana’s fight towards polio eradication. Besides this, Nigeria has reportedly granted the country millions in the last decade and a half.
Other than the trader deportation saga, there were the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa last year. This, however, was despite Nigeria’s sustained support towards her South African brethren.
Charity begins at home
In all, while Afrocentric policies are welcome, perhaps housekeeping operations should be prioritised. Such was the recommendation of researchers, Suleiman Hamman and Kayode Omojuwa in their study on “The Role of Nigeria in Peacekeeping Operations from 1960 to 2013.”
They added that rather than expending resources on peacekeeping, infrastructural development and citizen welfare should be prioritised. Moreover, a country with internal insecurity issues has no business maintaining the security of another.
Therefore, Nigeria should develop beneficial policies on foreign aid in moving forward. This tallies with most mixed and capital market economies from which Nigeria mimics. Even the US foreign aid policy for all its criticisms is beneficial to the States. Likewise in the UK, foreign aid proponents have argued that foreign aid is not just a ‘charitable act’, but brings tangible benefits to Britain.