The outgoing United States Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, has praised President Muhammadu Buhari’s record in the last one year, saying the administration has done well on the economy, fight against corruption and insecurity, given the circumstances it inherited.
Mr. Entwistle will be leaving Nigeria at the end of July, ahead of his retirement from the U.S. Foreign service, after a career spanning 35 and half years.
He told a select group of media representatives, on Friday that considering the very difficult situation Mr. Buhari inherited, the president did well in his first one year in office.
The envoy, who drew a parallel between President Obama and President Buhari, said although it was understandable for Nigerians to have high expectations of change, they, like the American people, should be patient with the administration.
“I see a parallel between President Buhari and President Obama. President Obama had not been in office very long before the people had the same kind of impatience. A lot of people forgot what difficult situation President Obama inherited,” Mr. Entwistle said.
“I think the same thing is happening to President Buhari. It is completely understandable for the people to have high expectations. They are impatient, because they want to see change. But, the president inherited very difficult circumstances.
“Some of the things he identified that needed to be done, like ending corruption, reforms in the petroleum sector, ending of the conflict in the North East, are things that even when you work as hard as you can, they are going to take some time to yield the kind of result you expect. People should be patient.
“It is good that the expectations from Mr. President are very high. But, I think people should remember what he inherited. And in my opinion, I try to be neutral and balanced, I think Mr. President and his team have done a good job in this first year,” Mr. Entwistle said.
On the economy, the out-going ambassador said the sliding oil prices affected most economies, including Nigeria’s. He said these days no country is an “economic island” and what happens in one economy, affects others.
He said President Buhari’s economic team has done a lot, particularly in the areas of exchange rate and removal of fuel subsidy, which he said could see the economy begin to do well.
Mr. Entwistle also gave President Buhari “very good marks” for his handling of the economy.
On the fight against corruption, the ambassador said he has a lot of respect for President Buhari, saying he has remained consistent with his campaign promise to make it the focus of his administration.