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Nigeria’s moment in the US sun

President Muhammadu Buhari in Washington DC, where he had a bilateral meeting with his host, President Donald Trump of the United States of America.

When President Muhammadu Buhari stepped out onto the lawns of the White House in Washington, with his host, President Donald Trump, to address the international media, Monday,  it was, indeed, literally speaking, Nigeria’s moment in the American sun.

Trump had very many good words for Nigeria and treated its leader with dignity.

Coming soon after the visits of the President of France, Emmanuel Macron and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, President Buhari’s state visit, the first by any sub Saharan African leader since Trump’s election showed the importance that the US President attaches to Nigeria and its strategic place in American-African affairs.

The wide range of issues discussed by the two leaders also confirm that the relationship between the two nations would blossom in the days ahead, especially in the areas of economic cooperation, fight against terrorism, anti-corruption war and governance.

It was, without being overtly mentioned, also clear that the US is fighting to ensure that its influence in Nigeria and Africa is not eroded by China.

A statement by the Presidency said that the meeting with President Trump is to discuss ways to enhance the strategic partnership between the two countries and to advance shared priorities, such as: promoting economic growth, fighting terrorism and other threats to peace and security.

The meeting will further deepen the US-Nigeria relationship as the United States considers Nigeria’s economic growth, security and leadership in Africa to be critical aspects of their strategic partnership.

Later in the day, President Buhari will meet with a group of business persons in agriculture and agro-processing, dairy and animal husbandry.

Prior to President Buhari’s visit, meetings were held on the 26th and 27th April, 2018, between senior Nigerian Government officials and executives of major US companies in the areas of agriculture, aviation and transportation.

In the area of aviation, the Nigerian officials met with Boeing, the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world, on the National Carrier Project.

On agriculture, they met with large equipment manufacturers with focus on harvesting and post harvesting equipment.

In the area of transportation, the officials also met with the GE-led consortium for the implementation of the interim phase of the narrow gauge rail concession.

In the interim phase, a substantive concession agreement will be negotiated and finalized to provide the consortium the opportunity to invest an estimated $2bn, to modernize the rail line from Lagos to Kano (Western Line) and from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri (Eastern Line). During the meeting, the concession framework and the interim phase framework agreements are expected to be signed.

The Nigerian officials also met with US-EXIM Bank and the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation to explore competitive financing arrangements.

It is noteworthy that in 2017, Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the United States Department of Commerce signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote and encourage commercial and investment ties between Nigeria and the United States, with initial focus on infrastructure, agriculture, digital economy, investment and regulatory reforms.

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