U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Thursday met with Nigerian Vice President in Abuja, and both leaders discussed a wide range of issues, including efforts to strengthen democracy, beat COVID-19 and tackle the existential threat of climate change.
The need to boost the global economy also came up in their discussions. The Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama was also in attendance.
“I met with Nigerian Vice President @ProfOsinbajo and Foreign Minister @GeoffreyOnyeama in Abuja today to discuss building back a more inclusive global economy and shared goals, such as combatting the climate crisis. We reaffirmed our efforts to strengthen our democracies,” Blinken said.
On his first official trip to Sub-saharan Africa, Blinken met with President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi on Wednesday before traveling to Nigeria. He is expected to conclude his three-nation tour of Africa in Senegal on Friday.
Osinbajo emphasized the need for cooperation between the United States and Nigeria, noting that an example of such cooperation has been shown in the U.S. response to COVID-19 with the donations of vaccines.
“There is no real solution without everyone being protected from this pandemic and the possibility of others,” said Osinbajo.
The Nigerian Vice President also thanked the United States for the cooperation on security, referencing the Super Tucanos that have been delivered, adding that the Nigerian government also expects to receive helicopters.
In remarks at the signing ceremony for $2.1 billion development assistance agreement with Vice President Osinbajo and Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey, Secretary Blinken highlighted key areas of cooperation with Nigeria, including the fight against COVID-19.
“We welcome working in ever closer ways, because one of the things that we feel very strongly is that the big challenges all of our citizens face simply can’t be addressed by any one of us acting alone,” Blinken said. “There’s a greater premium than there’s ever been on working together, finding ways to cooperate. We’re all feeling that very strongly when it comes to COVID-19, and we’re grateful for the work we’ve been able to do together on that.”
Blinken added, “And I think looking to the future, developing capacity for manufacturing vaccines in Africa is going to be critical, especially in dealing with, unfortunately, the next pandemic, because there almost certainly will be one. We know from the work that we’re doing together on climate that we have to be doing this together, and we very much appreciate what Nigeria has done, including at COP26 and including with regard to dealing with methane emissions.
“We know that there is much that we can do together to build our economies back even stronger after the pandemic, and much of that goes to the right kinds of investment in infrastructure, in green economies, in making sure that the investments we’re making together are really a race to the top for our people in terms of the standards that we bring to these projects. So I know we’ll be spending some time and looking at that.
“We very much appreciate as well the security cooperation that we’re developing and making sure that we do it in a comprehensive way that puts our concerns about people first and foremost in what we’re doing.
“And there’s much more to be discussed, and again, I don’t want to belabor it because we’ll have an opportunity to talk to our colleagues in the press very shortly and go into in more detail. But for now, let me simply say to all of our colleagues it’s wonderful to be with you. We’re so pleased for the hospitality, but especially pleased for the good work that our countries are doing together.”