May 18, 2023

Blinken calls Tinubu, pledges to strengthen US-Nigeria relations

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Anthony Blinken

•As President-elect promises to solidify democracy, promote good relations

•Speaks on asylum in US during Abacha regime

•Blinken’s call contradicts US position on Nigeria’s sham poll —Atiku

By Omeiza Ajayi

US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, has said he was committed to further strengthen US-Nigeria partnership with the incoming administration of President-elect Bola Tinubu.

This came barely days after the US announced the imposition of visa restrictions on Nigerians who allegedly disrupted the recently concluded elections in the form of voter threats, results manipulation, physical violence, and other activities that undermined democracy.

Matthew Miller, US department of state spokesperson, Matthew Miller, who disclosed this in a statement, said Blinken spoke with Tinubu, who is in France, on Tuesday, on the telephone.

Miller said the two leaders discussed the importance of inclusive leadership that represents all Nigerians, continued comprehensive security cooperation, and reforms to support economic growth.

The statemernt read:  “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.”

In his response, the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in a statement by his media aide, Tunde Rahman, promised to hit the ground running and unify the country upon his assumption of office on May 29. 

The statement read:  “Asíwájú Tinubu spoke during a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Initiated by the US diplomat, the telephone discussion, which was frank and friendly, took place on Tuesday evening.

“The President-elect said his immediate priorities would be to deliver institutional reforms and development programs to deepen our democratic institutions and bring help to poor and vulnerable Nigerians.

“He also expressed his determination to strengthen Nigeria’s democracy and faithfully serve the people as their president.

“During the talks that lasted about 20 minutes, President-elect Tinubu recalled being granted asylum by the US when he was forced on exile during his struggle for the restoration of democracy in Nigeria, and, while reaffirming his democratic bona fides, expressed his absolute belief that the result of the elections, which he clearly won, reflected the will of the Nigerian people.

“He further urged the US to factor in Nigeria’s important place in Africa and provide needed assistance in the areas of security and economic investment in order for the nation to lead the way and be a shining example to the rest of the continent.

“Secretary Blinken assured that Nigeria should expect a good and mutually-beneficial relationship with the US.

“He promised to play his part in ensuring and sustaining a cordial relationship between the two nations, saying a democratic and peaceful Nigeria is important to the United States as it is to Africa.

“Both President-elect Tinubu and Secretary Blinken ended their discussion with pleasant greetings and a promise to keep the channels of dialogue and communication open, whilst maintaining a strong relationship between the two nations.” 

Blinken’s call contradicts US position on Nigeria’s sham poll —Atiku

Reacting to Blinken’s call to Tinubu, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Presidential Candidate,  Atiku Abubakar, said the move contradicted the US stated stance on Nigeria’s 2023 polls.

His words: “I am in disbelief that Secretary Antony Blinken called Tinubu, a contradiction to 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 demoralising to citizens who have hedged their bet on democracy and the sanctity of the ballot.”