What Presidents Obama, Buhari discussed in U.S.
• Both presidents commit to war against terror, corruption
• Nigerian leader says ministers will be appointed in September
United States President Barack Obama yesterday, in Washington DC, pledged to stand with Nigeria in all its endeavours, including the fight against Boko Haram, provided it remained on course.
President Muhammadu Buhari is currently in the U.S. on Obama’s invitation.
Buhari, according to a tweet by Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, had made a brief stop to greet an ecstatic crowd of All Progressives Congress (APC) supporters, who converged at the Blair House — United States Presidents’ official guesthouse — to greet him.
Both leaders discussed areas of collaboration, especially on fostering unity, fighting insurgency and corruption, as well as Nigeria’s expected leadership role in Africa.
Citing Buhari’s credentials in integrity, Obama told the Nigerian president: “Wherever Nigeria goes, Africa goes; the continent’s destiny is tied to Nigeria’s.”
Obama, who urged five accompanying governors and others to work with Buhari, harped on the need for unity saying that a divided country would hardly succeed. He, therefore, urged the president to turn Nigeria’s diversity to source of strength.
Governors of Edo, Oyo, Imo, Borno and Nasarawa states and other top government officials joined Buhari and Obama for the bilateral talks.
On war against insurgents, the U.S. president advised that a combination of military action and socio-economic programmes would help.
Buhari had, prior to his meeting with Obama, held a breakfast session with Vice President Joe Biden, during which they compared terror-war notes. He is billed to meet with Secretary of State, John Kerry, today.
Meanwhile, President Buhari has affirmed that he would appoint members of his cabinet not earlier than September.
He also declared that the continued pressure on the immediate past administration by the U.S. and some European countries made the general elections in Nigeria to be free and fair.
Writing in The Washington Post yesterday, Buhari, said his discussions with President Obama would include not only his plans for critical reforms, but also “why the formation of my administration is taking time and, crucially, why it must. Already there are voices saying these changes are taking too long – even though only six weeks have passed since my inauguration. I hear such calls, but this task cannot and should not be rushed.
“When cabinet ministers are appointed in September, it will be some months after I took the oath of office. It is worth noting that Obama himself did not have his full cabinet in place for several months after first taking office; the United States did not cease to function in the interim. In Nigeria’s case, it would neither be prudent nor serve the interests of sound government to have made these appointments immediately on my elevation to the presidency; instead, Nigeria must first put new rules of conduct and good governance in place.
“I cannot stress how important it is to ensure that this process is carried out correctly, just as it has been crucial to first install the correct leadership of the military and security services before we fully take the fight to Boko Haram.”
Also, while responding to the welcome remarks by Obama before the start of the bilateral meeting between officials of both countries at the Oval Office of the White House, on the second day of the visit, Buhari acknowledged the contributions of the U.S. and some European Union members towards the consolidation of Nigeria’s democracy.
The President, who noted that without the external pressure, “we would not be where we are today” in Nigeria, recalled that the pressure started from the visit of the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry to the past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega.
“Nigeria will be ever grateful to President Obama and the United States for making Nigeria consolidate its gains on democracy,” the President said.
On his trip to the U.S. the President said he looked forward to a fruitful visit and engagement with his host government, while expressing delight that the United States government had indicated interest in partnering and helping the APC-led administration to bring to fruition its goals of tackling insecurity, corruption and youth unemployment.