In Washington, Buhari needs to speak for all of Africa

In Washington, Buhari needs to speak for all of Africa

As Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari prepares to meet his US counterpart in the White House on Monday, analysts are wondering whether this engagement could mark the belated beginning of the Trump administration’s Africa policy.

Most observers did not expect US President Donald Trump, who was elected on a promise to always put “America First”, to immediately focus his efforts on Africa after taking office. Yet they also did not expect him to completely disregard an aggregate mass of 55 nations that make up over a quarter of the globe’s sovereign political entities.

Unfortunately, this has largely been the case so far.

It took the Trump administration seven months to attempt filling the position of assistant secretary of state for African affairs, with the current occupant being given only an acting role and a one-year term.

Also, the US president himself did not try much to engage with Africa. The only direct engagement Trump has had with leaders from sub-Saharan Africa was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January this year. He met up with some leaders on the sidelines of the summit, and he also had a one-on-one meeting with his Rwandan counterpart, the then-incoming president of the African Union, Paul Kagame.

Yet these meetings have not been perceived by many as genuine attempts by the US president to reach out to African nations, mostly because the Davos summit came only days after Trump’s alleged “sh****le countries” remark which generated furore in Africa and beyond.

Some African leaders even threa

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