July 14, 2024

Nigerian President-elect Bola Tinubu Receives Call from Secretary Antony Blinken

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken called Nigerian President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Tuesday, ahead of his swearing-in ceremony on May 29. During the call, Secretary Blinken reaffirmed his unwavering commitment to strengthening the U.S.-Nigeria relationship under Tinubu’s incoming administration.

The discussion centered around the shared interests and strong people-to-people ties between the United States and Nigeria. Secretary Blinken emphasized the importance of inclusive leadership, comprehensive security cooperation, and economic reforms to drive growth. He acknowledged President-elect Tinubu’s role in furthering the bilateral ties between the two nations.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller stated, “Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke this morning with Nigerian President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu to emphasize his continued commitment to further strengthening the U.S.-Nigeria relationship with the incoming administration. The Secretary noted that the U.S.-Nigeria partnership is built on shared interests and strong people-to-people ties and that those links should continue to strengthen under President-elect Tinubu’s tenure. Secretary Blinken and President-elect Tinubu discussed the importance of inclusive leadership that represents all Nigerians, continued comprehensive security cooperation, and reforms to support economic growth.”

U.S. Secretary of State Announces Visa Restrictions on Individuals Undermining Nigeria’s Democratic Process

Meanwhile, Blinken issued a statement on May 15, announcing that the U.S. has taken decisive measures to impose visa restrictions on specific individuals in Nigeria. These individuals have been found to be involved in activities that undermined the democratic process during Nigeria’s 2023 elections cycle.

Secretary Blinken emphasized that these visa restrictions target specific individuals and are not directed towards the Nigerian people or the Government of Nigeria as a whole. The actions are implemented under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows the United States to impose restrictions on individuals believed to be responsible for or complicit in undermining democracy.

The targeted individuals are accused of various offenses, including voter intimidation through threats and physical violence, manipulation of vote results, and engaging in activities that undermine the democratic process in Nigeria.

He clarified that the visa restrictions imposed by the United States reflect the country’s continued commitment to support Nigeria in strengthening its democracy and upholding the rule of law. The aim is to ensure that the democratic aspirations of the Nigerian people are respected and protected.

The decision to impose visa restrictions underscores the U.S. government’s dedication to standing against actions that hinder democratic principles. By holding accountable those involved in undermining Nigeria’s democratic process, the United States sends a clear message that such activities will not be tolerated.

Secretary Blinken emphasized that the United States remains committed to working with Nigeria and other nations around the world to foster democracy, protect human rights, and promote good governance. These efforts are essential in building strong and prosperous societies based on the principles of transparency, accountability, and respect for the will of the people.

Attack on Nigerian convoy: Four people dead

In a separate incident, a U.S. convoy vehicle was attacked in Nigeria, with no harm to U.S. citizens reported. The attack occurred in the southeastern state of Anambra, resulting in the tragic deaths of two police officers and two staff members from the U.S. consulate.

According to local police officials, the attackers callously set their bodies and vehicles ablaze. While no U.S. citizens were involved, there have been casualties reported, said White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby during a news briefing on Tuesday. Relevant authorities are actively investigating the incident to gather more information and determine the full extent of the casualties.

The attack highlights concerns about the safety of American personnel operating in Nigeria and underscores the volatile situation in the region.

Anambra, the state where the attack took place, is the home state of presidential candidate Peter Obi, who recently faced electoral defeat. As the inauguration of President-elect Tinubu on May 29 approaches, tensions have escalated, leading to significant unrest among certain segments of the population. It remains unclear whether the attack is linked to the aftermath of the contentious election or if the attackers were motivated by other factors, such as criminal or extremist motives.

In a related development, United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Mary Catherine Phee visited Addis Ababa, engaging in meetings with the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the United Nations (UN), and the Ethiopian government. The discussions focused on regional and international efforts to end the conflict in Sudan.

Assistant Secretary Phee provided an update on the ongoing talks in Jeddah aimed at securing a short-term ceasefire and facilitating humanitarian access in Sudan. She welcomed the support received for the Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan and stressed the importance of all parties adhering to international humanitarian law and human rights commitments.

During her visit, Assistant Secretary Phee sought advice and guidance from key stakeholders, including AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, IGAD Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeheyu, UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Hanna Tetteh, and UN Special Representative to the Secretary General to the AU Parfait Onanga-Anyanga. The consultations explored ways in which countries and organizations could contribute to urgent efforts to end the conflict, restore stability, and facilitate an inclusive political transition in Sudan. The discussions also emphasized the need to resist external interference, which could exacerbate the conflict and contribute to regional instability.

During a news briefing in Washington, Vedant Patel, State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson, stated that the United States is actively involved in supporting the ongoing discussions between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces in Jeddah. The U.S. delegation, led by Ambassador Godfrey, is dedicated to achieving a short-term ceasefire and implementing humanitarian arrangements.

Moreover, Patel emphasized that the United States maintains continuous engagement with Sudanese civilian leaders, resistance committees, and civil society. The objective is to facilitate a political transition that ultimately leads to free and fair elections and a sustainable peace in Sudan.

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