© 2018 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Did Buhari really sign a food import deal with America? No!
The Presidency has rebuffed reports making the rounds in some media platforms, claiming that President Muhammadu Buhari signed a food import deal with the United States of America, during his visit to the White House in April.
Tolu Ogunlesi, Special Assistant to the President on Digital/New Media, made this known on Wednesday, in reaction to an opinion published by Premium Times with the title: “Buhari’s U.S. Food Import Deal Will Make You Poorer, Fat and Sick”.
The opinion, authored by Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, a columnist, claimed that the deal Buhari signed with the US will have adverse implications for Nigeria’s food security, health and economic wellbeing.
“While Trump is seeking to Make America Great Again by helping farmers, Buhari is seeking to make Nigerians poorer, fatter and less food secure. In actual sense, it is a deal for and on behalf of Dangote, who is poised to become richer, stronger and more powerful,” the author opined.
Another opinion piece had been published by Sahara Reporters on May 2, with the title: “The Deal Buhari Signed In America”. The article was written by one Maiyegun General.
The article also claimed that Buhari had signed a major food import agreement with Trump, and that Dangote would be the major beneficiary of the deal.
“The moment Buhari was signing those deals, Dangote was signing as the sole beneficiary of the importation. Dangote gets a good deal to keep the monopoly intact, Nigeria army got their 12 fighter jets deals sorted too, Trump makes American Farmers Great Again. What do Nigeria farmers, Nigerians get, HOPE!” the article read in part.
But Ogunlesi, via his verified tweeter handle, reiterated that the document Buhari was pictured signing at the White House was just an “ordinary” visitors’ register and not any food import deal.
“Na wa. I actually assumed we had made it clear that what PMB signed in that White House photo that went viral was a Visitor’s Register. Ordinary register o. Surprised to see articles referring to Buhari signing US Food Import Deal,” Ogunlesi explained.
“The 2 Presidents didn’t sign any “deals”. That wasn’t the point of their meeting. After the WH Meeting, PMB met with CEOs of US and Nigerian Agrobusinesses, to discuss investing in Nigeria, not importing food.”
The 2 Presidents didn’t sign any “deals.” That wasn’t the point of their meeting.
After the WH Meeting, PMB met with CEOs of US and Nigerian Agrobusinesses, to discuss investing in Nigeria, not importing food.
.@Garshehu has a detailed piece on #PMBinDC: https://t.co/RQh7FkxdiR https://t.co/1K62MHNPFK
— tolu ogunlesi (@toluogunlesi) May 9, 2018
Also, during an interview with BBC Hausa just after his return to Nigeria, President Buhari said there were no agreements signed during the visit. “No agreements, just discussions,” he said.
When ICIR checked through the White House website, there was no mention of any trade agreement signed during President Buhari’s visit, though President Trump had said that, given US’s contribution to Nigeria in terms of aids and grants, there should not be any trade barriers between the two countries.
“I’m pleased that Nigeria is one of our largest trading partners in the region, and we look forward to growing our trade relationship based on the principle of fairness and reciprocity. But we give Nigeria well over $1 billion in aid every year. And we have already started talking with the President about taking down the trade barriers — very substantial barriers to the United States trading with Nigeria. So we think that we are owed that,” Trump said during a press conference with Buhari.
There is no evidence to support the claim that Buhari did sign a food import deal with the US, unless the authors of the opinion pieces know something the rest of Nigerians do not.