Nigeria seeks bolder U.S. action on security challenges, as Blinken meets with Buhari

Antony J. Blinken met virtually on Tuesday with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, his first visit to Africa as Secretary of State.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari 
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari

Both leaders discussed pressing, global challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, economic recovery, and climate change, as well as national and regional issues such as the “growing security challenges” in Nigeria and across the African continent, and the worsening impacts of climate change in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin. 

To address global challenges, the U.S. is committed to working through multilateral institutions and recognizes the “constructive leadership role Nigeria plays in global affairs,” said State Department Spokesperson Ned Price of the meeting. Buhari expressed his appreciation of U.S. reengagement with global issues and its commitment to work through international organizations. 

Blinken during opening remarks spoke of the two countries “charting a shared vision” for the future that would include collaborating on global heath security and climate change. The U.S. also seeks to continue working with Nigeria on the Covid-19 pandemic and economic recovery. 

President Buhari was more concerned about the widespread security issues in Nigeria as well as in the greater Central and West Africa regions, the Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad Region, and the Sahel. He said that while Nigerian security forces were committed to addressing the “root causes” of insecurity, the U.S. should relocate AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa.

Blinken had visited Abuja, Nigeria six years ago as a senior official in the Obama administration, and he said he was “especially pleased to make Nigeria part of [his] first visit, virtual visit, to Africa as Secretary of State.” 

The U.S.-Nigeria relationship is “founded upon shared democratic ideals and a spirit of transparency and cooperation,” said Spokesperson Price. 

The U.S.-Nigeria binational commission (BNC) is expected to meet later in the year to review joint goals of “strengthening democratic institutions; promoting economic diversification and trade; expanding [bilateral] security cooperation.”

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