In the face of escalating insecurity in northern Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) has turned down requests to visit. Instead, on Thursday, the President traveled to Istanbul with his wife, Aisha, and seven ministers to attend the third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit.
Buhari has recently come under fire as a result of increased insecurity in the north, with youths advocating under the hashtags #SecureNorth and #NorthisBleeding.
Over 32,000 individuals had signed a petition on Change.Org by Thursday evening, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to proclaim a state of emergency in portions of Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto, and Katsina due to insecurity, despite the President’s refusal to visit victims.
During Wednesday’s protests, activists urged the President should personally visit bandit-infested villages rather than sending representatives.
The President’s decision to visit Lagos for the book launch of All Progressives Congress chieftain Bisi Akande, just two days after a bus full of passengers was burned alive by bandits in Sokoto State, was criticized by certain northern groups.
On Monday, the Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, defended the President, saying it was difficult for him to pay condolence visits to victims and that sending a delegation was necessary.
“These attacks are happening almost on a daily basis and it is not possible for the president to visit all the places for condolences. And if you send a delegation, it is as if you were there, is all the same,” he said.
Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, said in a statement on Thursday that the President has traveled to Turkey for a summit titled “Enhanced Partnership for Common Development and Prosperity,” which will be hosted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The conference will examine collaboration between African countries and Turkey since the last summit in 2014, according to the organizers.
Shehu said, “The third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit is coming on the heels of President Erdogan’s recent State Visit to Nigeria during which several agreements in the fields of energy, defence industry, mining and hydrocarbons were signed to expand existing bilateral ties.
“The Turkish leader had, during the visit to Nigeria, affirmed his commitment to immediately expand the volume of trade between the two countries to $5bn and the Nigerian delegation will seize the opportunity of the gathering in Istanbul to enhance cooperation with other partners for more trade and investment opportunities in the country.
Buhari will be accompanied on the trip by his wife, Aisha Buhari; the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Defense, Bashir Magashi; FCT, Mohammed Bello; Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; Agriculture, Mohammed Abubakar; Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo; and the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno.
On Sunday, December 19, the President is anticipated to return to Abuja.
Istanbul will be the President’s 9th city visit in the last 13 weeks. He has traveled to Dubai, Durban, Paris, Scotland, New York, Riyadh, and Mecca throughout this time.