President Muhammadu Buhari travelled to five continents of the world in 2019, spending 157 hours and 28 minutes (6.56 days) in the air.
For the then 77-year-old man, that’s a long time to spend crisscrossing the globe. But let’s put the hours and minutes in proper perspective. (NB: We are not saying he made those trips at a stretch; we are just trying to put the hours and minutes, erm, in proper perspective).
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Buhari will still be in the air after a lover of football saw Manchester United’s 2-0 away win over Burnley on Saturday and 104 (yes, you read it right, 104) other games nonstop.
Football sucks? That’s fine. We assume you are a movie buff then, right? The longest cinematic film ever, The Innocence (released in 2019), has a running time of 21 hours, 5 minutes. If you are someone (like me) who can see a film over and over again (like I did, and still doing, with Equalizer 1 and 2) then viewing this 1,265-minute movie eight times (back-to-back) means, finally, the president would have been on the ground.
The Longest Most Meaningless Movie in the World is an underground film made in the UK that runs to 48 hours long. It’s meaningless trying to look for the movie but we can’t say the president’s trips were meaningless, too.
In April, the president left Abuja for N’Djamena (a distance of 1 hour 40 minutes to and back – henceforth it will be represented as X 2) to participate in an extraordinary session of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States. What is extraordinary cannot be meaningless.
In August, he departed Abuja for Japan (16 hours 44 minutes X 2) for the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development. We all know that Africa is badly in need of development!
In September, Buhari left the Federal Capital Territory (FTC) for Ouagadougou (3 hours 15 minutes X 2) for the ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit on Counterterrorism. Extraordinary and terrorism are not ordinary issues!
In the same month, he left the FTC for New York (15 hours X 2) to attend the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Hunger in Africa would have been on the agenda.
In October, in the wake of xenophobia, Buhari departed Abuja for South Africa (6 hours X 2) for a state visit and to attend the 9th meeting of the Bi-National Commission. An opportunity to see his counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, cannot be called a meaningless meeting.
Also, in October, the president left Abuja for Russia (7 hours 43 minutes X 2) for the Russia-Africa Economic Forum. Buhari also had a bilateral meeting with Vladimir Putin where the two leaders agreed to improve both nations economic relationship. A very important relationship!
The president spent most of October in the air. He left Abuja for Riyadh (5 hours 5 minutes X 2) for the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Summit. His present investment in solving Nigeria’s economic issues is worthy of note.
That was not the president’s first visit to Saudi Arabia in 2019. In May, he departed the FTC for Riyadh (5 hours 5 minutes X 2) on the invitation of King Salman Bin Abdulaziz to carry out the Umrah (lesser Hajj). During the visit, Buhari participated in the 14th summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Nothing beats cooperation!
In November, Buhari travelled to London (6 hours 40 minutes) on a private visit where he spent two weeks. Details of the visit were sketchy to the public.
In the same month, the president travelled to Equatorial Guinea (6 hours 27 minutes) for a gas summit being the minister of petroleum.
In December 2019, Buhari left Abuja for Egypt (5 hours 5 minutes) for a forum on peace and sustainable development in Africa.
Thanks to COVID-19, Buhari and his fellow Nigerians enjoyed the dividends of democracy together in the country in 2020.