In what is an unusual diplomatic largesse for his country and presidency, leading nations around the world are offering President Muhammadu Buhari state visits this year.
This is just as the United Nations is also looking forward to his participation at the 70th anniversary of the world body in New York this September.
In the past recent weeks, the global community has been generally celebrating Nigeria, including the leading international news weekly, Time Magazine, which published a very positive review on the country recently, saying Nigeria is one of the very few things that is currently positive in a world described by the publication as depressing.
As such sentiments spread in the international community, there are now at least three major countries known to have invited Buhari to visit their executive heads of government in what promises to be fairly elaborate state visits sooner or later this year. These nations are the United Kingdom, the United States and India.
A senior UN official also confirmed Monday that the world body is hoping that President Buhari attends the next General Assembly summit which marks 70 years of the United Nations.
The official said more than 100 heads of state are expected alongside Buhari at the yearly global summit in New York, where the Nigerian delegation might be one of the major attractions.
Although a visit to the UN by a nation is more of the discretion of a country, since the UN is open to all its member-states especially during the annual General Assembly summits, it is believed that the gathering offers unique opportunities to celebrate nations, their presidents and leaders around the world whose public record or global goodwill are rising, just like what is happening to Nigeria currently.
On the other hand, invitations for state visits from one nation to the other, and one president to the other is considered more nuanced and signifies a celebration of warm ties between nations and their leaders.
Of the three major nations being mentioned so far, that is the US, UK, and India, it is the White House offer of a presidential visit that is expected to generate the greatest diplomatic windfall for Mr. Buhari and Nigeria.
While Nigeria and the U.S. enjoyed good relationship during the Goodluck Jonathan administration with the diplomatic hardwork of Prof Ade Adefuye, the current Nigeria’s Ambassador in Washington DC, the perception that the former Nigerian president was weak on fighting corruption and disagreements between the Nigerian military and their American counterparts on the fight against Boko Haram damaged the otherwise warm diplomatic rapport between both countries particularly in the last one year of the Jonathan presidency.
But in both U.S. and Nigerian diplomatic circles, there is wide agreement that the emergence of the Buhari-Osinbajo presidency has changed the tone, restoring warm diplomatic relationships again.
This, according to U.S. sources explained why the U.S. President, Barack Obama, wanted to send his Vice President, Joe Biden, to lead the presidential delegation to witness and grace Nigeria’s May 29 presidential inauguration.
Mr. Biden could not eventually make the trip because his now passed son, Beau Biden, was already very ill and dying and unsettling him emotionally for a while.
However, at the just-concluded African Union summit in South Africa, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield, discussed with the Nigerian delegation to the summit details of a proposed White House and U.S. reception for President Buhari very soon.
We reliably learnt that U.S. Secretary, John Kerry, has actually offered Buhari a visit to the White House when he attended the president’s May 29 inauguration in Abuja.
The United Kingdom and India are also said to have made similar offers on different occasions