President Buhari had jetted out of the country to attend the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) holding at Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, between Aug 28 and August 30, 2019.
Nigerians took to twitter on Tuesday to question Buhari’s visit to Japan at a time Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzō Abe, was away in France to attend the summit.
The concerns were raised after the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, was seen in company of other world leaders at the 45th G7 summit that held in Biarritz, France, August 24 and August 26, 2019.
Adesina alongside the African Union Chairman and President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, were invited to the G7 to represent the continent. Also invited were South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Senegalese President, Macky Sall, Burkina Faso President, Roch KABORE, among others.
But addressing concerns on why Buhari was not in France like his African counterparts, presidential aide, Femi Adesina explained that “no Nigerian leader, or leader of any non-member country” can attend the G7 summit if they are not invited.
Adesina wrote on his Facebook page: “The first concern somebody raised was why President Buhari was in Japan, when the G7 was meeting in France. Funny, but let’s educate those who are of such minds. Is Nigeria part of G7? No. So, no Nigerian leader, or leader of any non-member country, can gatecrash into the meeting of the association. You need to be invited. Recall that in 2015, about a week after his inauguration, the first trip President Buhari made outside Africa was to attend the G7 meeting in Germany. He had been invited to brief the association on the security challenges in Nigeria, so that helping hand could be offered.
“You don’t stroll into G7 meeting, if you are not a member country. You gotta be invited.
“Somebody also said the Nigerian President was in Japan, when his host, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was in France, saying it didn’t show seriousness. Really? TICAD 7 starts Wednesday. The Nigerian leader arrived here Monday. When else should he have come? The journey from Abuja to Japan is 17 hours. Do you do that by hop, step and jump? Or you use what the Yoruba call ‘Kanako,’ in which you just stamp your foot on the ground, and you find yourself where you want to go, in a jiffy? Some people must just criticize, for the very fun of it.
“And then, another person said all the African leaders congregating in Japan for an African conference were stupid, because they should have insisted that the conference hold in Africa. When I read the comment, the Scripture verse that came to my mind was, “Why do the heathens rage, and the people imagine vain things?”
Responding to the observation, the presidential aide said: “It has been said many times in our statements and press releases that TICAD started in 1993, as an event of every five years in Tokyo, till the format was changed to every three years, to rotate between Tokyo and Africa. TICAD 6 thus held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016. So, why are some people still wailing? China holds Forum on China and Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). It rotates between Africa and Beijing. Since it started in year 2000 as a triennial affair, Ethiopia, Egypt, and South Africa have hosted it. As well as Beijing. That is the structure that is also emerging for TICAD. But some people simply refuse to get informed.
“Apart from Japan, other co-organizers of TICAD 7 are the UN, World Bank, UNDP, and African Union Commission. Participants include African countries, international organizations, development partners, private companies, civil society, and others. For instance, Chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA), Mr Tony Elumelu, is billed to give a keynote address.”
Adesina also discarded the claim by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on social media that President Buhari was not in Japan and was “missing”.
He said his statement was, “not in response to futile efforts by some shadowy group to convince Nigerians that their President was not in Japan, or that they were going to molest him. That does not really deserve any answer. To those who believe, no explanation is necessary, while to the cynics and septics, no explanation is possible. We leave them in their follies.”