Nigerians lashed President Buhari after he named a highway in Abuja, after Niger Republic’s President Mahamadou Issoufou.
News Mail Nigeria reports that Buhari defended his action by saying the two nations, Nigeria and Niger Republic share common boarder and share cultural and historical roots over the years.
“Relations between the two countries have, over the years, been very cordial and fraternal. There is a spirit of good neighbourliness between us,” Buhari said during Issoufou’s visit to Abuja on Tuesday.
“Nigeria’s borders with Niger have always been largely peaceful. There have been no serious border conflicts between the two countries.”
President Buhari was also conferred with the highest national honor of the Niger Republic-Grand Croix Des Ordre National Du Niger.
Commenting on why he conferred Buhari with the highest honor in his country, Issoufou said he did so on Buhari for his “fraternity, vigour, patriotism and determination to move Africa forward, starting from the West Coast.”
This exchange of honors between the two leaders generated criticism with many saying Buhari’s roots could be traced to the Niger Republic, they added that it is also the reason he is building the 284-kiloletre Kano-Maradi railway.
The truth is, before Buahri, three other Nigerian Presidents like Ibrahim Babangida, Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan have all named projects after foreign leaders.
Ibrahim Babangida – Soglo Way, Badagry
Babangida named a road after former Republic of Benin President Nicéphore Soglo in 1992 during his visit to Nigeria.
Soglo’s visit to Nigeria was a year after he succeeded Mathieu Kérékou as Republic of Benin president.
The road named after Soglo stretches from Badagry Town Hall to Agbalata Market.
Babangida resigned from the office one year after – in 1993.
Olusegun Obasanjo – Bill Clinton Avenue, Sauka, Abuja.
Bill Clinton was the first American president to visit Nigerian after Jimmy Carter did in 1978. His visit came a year after Nigeria returned to democracy.
To show his appreciation to Clinton, the then President Olusegun Obasanjo named the stretch of road leading to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Bill Clinton Avenue, Sauka, Abuja.
Obasanjo also gave Clinton three Nigerian names – one each from three ethnic groups – Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba.
Barely a month to the end of his tenure as Nigerian president, Jonathan named roads in Asokoro extension, Abuja, after former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Anan, late South African anti-apartheid activist Walter Sisulu and former President of Sudan, Gaafar al-Nimeiry.
Notable Nigerian politicians, sports figures and businessmen were also honoured in the naming spree.
Apart from the above, there is a litany of roads, streets and buildings in Nigeria named after African leaders.
There is a Nelson Mandela Road/Street in Calabar, Cross River State – named after former South African president.
Also inside the Unversity of Nigeria (UNN), Enugu Campus, UNEC, there is a Kwame Nkrumah Postgraduate Hostel.
Crown Estate in Lekki, Lagos State has streets named after Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta (former Kenyan prime minister and later president) and Patrice Lumumba (the first prime minister of the Republic of Congo).