Recent actions by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari have brought to light the president’s affinity for neighboring country, Niger Republic. Many Nigerians have joked that they could refer to Niger Republic as Nigeria’s 37th state following the federal allocations the country has received under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Although Nigeria has 36 bona fide states, Niger Republic seems to have enjoyed more federal allocations than some of its states. 

Buhari’s Contributions to Niger Republic 
Back in the 1980s when General Muhammadu Buhari ruled Nigeria as a military Head of State, he allegedly campaigned for a Nigerien named Ide Oumarou, to win the position of Secretary-General of the then Organization of African Unity, OAU, which is now African Union, AU, rather than a Nigerian, Peter Onu.

A Nigerian newspaper later published that President Buhari voted for Niger’s candidate, who was a Fulani man against his fellow Nigerian countryman. As a result, Buhari became “the first and only Head of State in the history of modern international relations to vote against his country in favour of his tribe.”

Again, Buhari’s administration borrowed $1.9 billion from China to construct a 284 kilometers railway project from Kano, Nigeria to Maradi in Niger Republic. To seal this project, President Buhari sent the then Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, to plead with the government of Niger Republic to allow the rail project. The rail project is still ongoing. 

In 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari signed a pact with the Nigerien government to construct an oil refinery in Katsina State. However, the crude supply would come from Niger Republic’s oilfields in the Ténéré desert rather than the Niger Delta region in Nigeria. This was to help the Niger Republic increase its production capacity. 

Again in 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari, who doubles as the Minister of Petroleum, signed a $2 billion refinery project to import fuel from Niger Republic for the country’s produce to have a destination. Note that Niger Republic only became an oil producing country in 2012. 

Few days back, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed on behalf of the federal government confirmed the purchase of 10 luxurious SUVs worth N1.15 billion for the Republic of Niger to fight “insecurity” despite Nigeria’s current financial crisis. 

What you should know
Beyond reasonable doubt, President Muhammadu Buhari holds Niger Republic in high esteem. So high that while campaigning for reelection in 2019, governors of Zinder and Maradi in Niger Republic were among the dignitaries present at the Nigerians president mega rally in Kano.

Also, in an interview in 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari said, “I said I have first cousins in Niger. There are Kanuris, there are Hausas, and there are Fulanis in Niger Republic just as there are Yorubas in Benin. You can’t absolutely cut them off.”

Conclusively, no matter how hard Buhari’s government tries to defend the President’s bias towards Niger Republic, the extension of Nigeria’s limited federal resources to the neighboring country will not be accepted by the Nigerian public seeing the financial and economic ruin the country is in. Nigerians are likely to accept the President’s generosity to the country if Niger Republic is formally Nigeria’s 37th state. 

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