Blinken meets Nigerian leader, unfolds America’s interest in Africa

President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria on Tuesday held a meeting with the visiting American Secretary of State Anthony Blinken who is on tour of African nations who has reiterated the Americans commitment to investing in Nigeria’s economy.

Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Yusuf Tuggar received Blinken at the forecourt of the Presidential Villa in Abuja before the bilateral talks with the Nigerian delegation headed by President Tinubu.

Nigeria is the third country Blinken he is visiting on his Africa tour aimed at building better bilateral relations and partnership with the African Continent.

Blinken begins his fourth African trip this week, with visits to Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Angola.

Blinken said at a news briefing after meeting with President Tinubu at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday in Abuja that American entrepreneurs and companies were eager to partner with and invest in Nigeria, especially in the tech sector.

“American entrepreneurs, American companies are eager to partner with and invest in Nigeria’s economy, particularly in the tech sector.

“We have tech giants that are teamed up with Nigerian partners to help Mr president’s new one million digital Jobs Initiative.

“Other companies are part of laying undersea cables, using satellite technology to expand access to the internet. Our tech incubators are fostering Nigeria’s next startups.

“Our venture capital companies are working to finance, so we want to work in partnership to help drive Nigeria’s technological revolution, which is creating jobs. It’s growing businesses, and it’s growing innovations in both of our countries,” he said.

Bliken also reiterated the significant role of Nigeria in the development partnership between America and the African continent because of its economic and political position.

He added that the U.S. was working to ensure that Africa gets more voice in the United Nations decision making as a way of incorporating the new realities and dynamics of the world.

“Today, we spoke about a range of common priorities, including our focus on accelerating economic growth and opportunity here. This is a place of extraordinary innovation, extraordinary dynamism.

“The United States is committed to strengthening genuine partnerships on the continent, to solve shared challenges, and also to deliver on the promise and the fundamental aspirations of our peoples.

“Nigeria, as Africa’s largest country, largest economy, largest democracy is essential to that effort.

“We’re driving blue economic development, environmental protection, science and technology exchange, through a new partnership for learning cooperation.

“At the UN General Assembly, just this past September, the president said, and I quote, ‘Africa is nothing less than the key to the world’s future.”

Bliken, however, said that as much as American would want a collaborating for strengthening bilateral ties with Nigeria, the country must continue to tackle challenges to doing business.

He said that the U.S. recognised Tinubu’s strategic measures aimed at reviving the lost confidence of genuine investors in the nation’s economy.

“I think it’s no secret that there remains some long term challenges that need to be overcome, to really unlock the full potential,

“Tackling corruption, making it easier for foreign companies to repatriate capital, these will all pull in a transformative direction and pull in transformative direct investment.

“I know that presidents Tinubu is focused on these challenges, and we also welcome his very bold economic reforms to unify the currency and end fuel subsidy.

“We also recognize that in the short term, these reforms created pain for vulnerable communities.

“I spoke about some ways that the United States can support Nigerians while the government carries out these essential reforms and work to protect those who may again in the short term, be negatively affected.”

Bliken said that in spite of the identified challenges in Nigeria, the government and American entrepreneurs still continue to explore the great potential of the country in reaching Africa.

He said that large investments are being made by private sector companies in collaboration with local entities to ensure that development was effected for the people, especially in the health sector.

“Over the last five years, we’ve invested $8.3 billion in HIV tuberculosis prevention, care and treatment, and in strengthening the public health system, reaching millions of Nigerians and that effort will continue.

“Our partnership is also strengthening Nigerian institutions to innovate and lead the region’s public health response.

“We’re driving climate action. As partners in the global coalition. We’re working in collaborating to support the development and use of artificial intelligence for good with 30 other Atlantic countries.

“Because one of the things we’ve learned from these partnerships is that it benefits us as much as any place or any company that we’re investing in,” he said.

He also said that America was committed to lasting peace and security in the African region.

Blinken, however, said that the initiatives of America would greatly depend on the region’s dependable efforts at ensuring safety of civilian populations.

“Having said that, it’s important that we be working to support our partners who are trying to find effective ways of providing security and we are working to support Nigeria in working to support our Lake Chad region partners.

“To strengthen the capacity of their security forces in a whole variety of ways to deal with insecurity. And yes, that does go to equipment and technology for weapons and we’re working on that.

“But it also goes to many other things including information sharing, intelligence, technical support, advice, and it goes to having a comprehensive approach that genuinely focuses on citizen security.

“Working with local communities, in partnership, demonstrating the security forces that are there, first and foremost, to protect them and to support their needs.”

He said that the U.S. was concerned about the securoty challenges faced by Africa in securing the region from extreme terrorism, violence and other criminal activities that affects the people.

He decried the increase in poor security and resort to undemocratic means of changing democratically elected leaders like the situation in the Niger Republic.

Bliken said that the collaboration between the Afircan countries and America must be based on critical regional strategies in addressing these situations.

“So when you look at what we are doing, we’re providing assistance through a variety of methods through our diplomacy.

“Engaging with other countries through our security systems, through police and military justice programmes, reforms, which are vital through dialogue efforts through development programmes, all of these things work hand in hand.

“Now, it’s also vitally important from our perspective and the perspective of our Congress, that there’ll be a focus on making sure that civilians are protected.

“That humanitarian considerations be taken into consideration and into concern. As all of these efforts are underway, and that’s part of our dialogue and conversation too, with our partners in Nigeria, and elsewhere in the region.”

He said that the U.S. would continue to collaborate with regional and global partners to ensure that vatious strategies are employed to solve the worsening security situation in the continent.