U.S. President Joe Biden has extended an exclusive invitation to Nigerian President Bola Tinubu to discuss the political standoff in Niger Republic on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session in September.
The invitation comes after the Nigerien military ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in a coup d’état on July 26. The coup has been condemned by the international community, including the United States.
In a statement by President Tinubu’s media adviser, Ajuri Ngelale, Biden was said to be interested in speaking with the Nigerian leader on how Nigeria can work with the United States to support the restoration of democracy in Niger.
Biden’s invitation to Tinubu was conveyed on Saturday when the United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, H.E. Mrs Molly Phee, met separately with the President of the ECOWAS Commission, H.E Dr Omar Alieu Touray and its chair, President Bola Tinubu, to discuss ways to restore democratic governance in the Niger Republic, among other diplomatic issues.
Tinubu told the US delegation that war in Niger does not align with his economic reforms but assured that democracy would be restored in the country through relevant diplomatic channels.
This was disclosed through the Facebook pages of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and that of Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to TInubu on media and publicity.
At the ECOWAS Commission Headquarters in Abuja, the US diplomat was briefed on the latest efforts of the bloc to restore democratic governance in Niger.
On her part, Phee said the US will support peaceful resolution of the political crisis following the ousting of President Mohamed Bazoum by the junta.
At the presidential villa, Tinubu said the crisis in the Niger Republic would not negatively affect his economic reform programme for Nigeria.
“We are deep in our attempts to peacefully settle the issue in Niger by leveraging on our diplomatic tools. I continue to hold ECOWAS back, despite its readiness for all options, in order to exhaust all other remedial mechanisms. War is not ideal for my economic reforms, nor for the region, but the defense of democracy is sacrosanct. The ECOWAS consensus is that we will not allow anyone to insincerely buy time,” Tinubu said.
Tinubu recommended the need “to ensure that U.S. policy is intentionally collaborative with independent African democracies at a time when they are under assault by anti-democratic forces within and outside of the continent.”
“Yes, the private sector will lead the way within an enabling environment we create for them, but the U.S. Government must be innovative in its thinking and systematically create incentives for U.S. industrial investment in Nigeria. Under my leadership, Nigeria stands ready to address their specific regulatory, tax and environmental concerns. I am determined to create prosperity for all Nigerian families,” the President said.
Responding, the U.S diplomat was said to have “extended an exclusive invitation from U.S. President Joe Biden to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City to advance discussions further in late September.”
“We know there is more we can do to incentivize large-scale American investment in Nigeria and we are committed to working closely with you to achieve that, as part of efforts to strengthen the Nigerian economy and the regional economy. We appreciate your willingness to create an enabling environment for that. President Joe Biden is asking to meet with you on the sidelines of UNGA and you are the only African leader he has requested to meet. It is a mark of his high regard for your leadership,” the U.S. Special Envoy said.
“The president that he accepts the invitation to meet the U.S. President on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and that the work of perfecting democracy is never done, even in developed democracies, as seen recently in America, as well as other emerging democracies in the world,” the statement reads.