U.S. President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. announced on Monday the appointment of a Presidential Delegation to attend the inauguration of Nigerian President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu on May 29, 2023, in Abuja, Nigeria.
Leading the delegation will be Marcia L. Fudge, Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Members of the Presidential Delegation include Mr. David Greene, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, and Sydney Kamlager-Dove, United States Representative (D) from California. The delegation also includes Marisa Lago, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Joining them will be General Michael E. Langley, Commander of U.S. Africa Command, and Enoh T. Ebong, Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. Additionally, the delegation includes the Mary Catherine Phee, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.
Judd Devermont, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council, as well as Monde Muyangwa, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Africa at the U.S. Agency for International Development, will also be part of the delegation.
The delegation represents the commitment of the United States to strengthen ties and maintain diplomatic relations with Nigeria. Their presence at the inauguration underscores the importance the Biden administration places on bilateral cooperation and engagement with African nations.
Even as President Biden is sending a delegation to Nigeria, opposition figures continue to claim that the election was not free and fair and was rigged.
Last Wednesday, Nigerian presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar took to Twitter to express his disbelief over a phone call made on Tuesday by U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to Nigerian President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Abubakar argued that legitimizing what he described as a widely acknowledged fraudulent election can be demoralizing for citizens who trust in democracy and the sanctity of the ballot.
The former Nigerian Vice President tweeted, “I am in disbelief that @SecBlinken called Tinubu, contradicting the publicly stated position of the US on Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election. This is inconceivable considering that America, as the bastion of democracy, is well briefed on the sham election of February 25. To give legitimacy to the widely acknowledged fraudulent election in Nigeria can be demoralizing to citizens who have hedged their bet on democracy and the sanctity of the ballot @StateDept @POTUS @USinNigeria. -AA”
During the call, Secretary Blinken reaffirmed his commitment to strengthening the U.S.-Nigeria relationship under Tinubu’s incoming administration.
The discussion focused on shared interests, strong people-to-people ties, inclusive leadership, comprehensive security cooperation, and economic reforms to drive growth.
He emphasized the importance of continuing to strengthen the bilateral ties between the two nations under President-elect Tinubu’s tenure.
While Abubakar expressed disbelief over the call, it is essential to note that the U.S. has also announced visa restrictions on specific individuals in Nigeria who have been found to undermine the democratic process during Nigeria’s 2023 election cycle.
Secretary Blinken clarified that these restrictions target specific individuals and not the Nigerian people or the Government of Nigeria as a whole. The U.S. aims to hold accountable those involved in voter intimidation, manipulation of vote results, and activities that undermine the democratic process.
Separately, a U.S. convoy vehicle was attacked in the southeastern state of Anambra, resulting in the tragic deaths of two police officers and two staff members from the U.S. consulate. The attackers set their bodies and vehicles ablaze. While no U.S. citizens were harmed, the incident raises concerns about the safety of American personnel operating in Nigeria and highlights the volatile situation in the region.
As tensions escalate ahead of President-elect Tinubu’s inauguration on May 29, there have been significant unrest and concerns about the aftermath of the election. It remains unclear whether the attack on the U.S. convoy is linked to the election or motivated by other factors such as criminal or extremist motives.
The developments surrounding the U.S.-Nigeria relationship, the contested election, and the attack on the U.S. convoy underline the complex political and security landscape in Nigeria. The upcoming inauguration and ongoing investigations will shed more light on the situation, as stakeholders strive to address these challenges and foster a democratic and stable Nigeria.
The inauguration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu marks a significant moment for Nigeria, and the Presidential Delegation will participate in the event to further enhance the relationship between the United States and Nigeria.