Security high on agenda as Nigeria’s Buhari meets Trump in US

Security high on agenda as Nigeria’s Buhari meets Trump in US

Abuja: Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is due to meet his US counterpart Donald Trump at the White House on Monday.
The two are expected to discuss US help for Nigeria in the fight against terrorism and promoting economic growth.
Buhari, facing elections early next year, is under pressure to deliver on promises to defeat Boko Haram that helped him win office in 2015 in a rare democratic transfer of power in Nigeria.
Military co-operation
With Nigeria nowhere close to fully defeating Boko Haram despite government claims of having “crushed” the extremists, Buhari is expected to seek further US military assistance.
Already the Trump administration has made a $600 million deal to supply military planes and security equipment, one that was stalled under the Obama administration because of allegations that Nigeria’s military has been involved in human rights including rape and extrajudicial killings.
Economic partnership
In addition to seeking greater security collaboration, Buhari and Trump will also “discuss ways to enhance the strategic partnership between the two countries and to advance shared priorities, such as promoting economic growth,” the Nigerian presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, said in a statement.
Nigerian newspapers report that a team of government officials that travelled to the US ahead of Buhari have signed an agreement to provide four companies led by General Electric the opportunity to invest an estimated $2 billion to modernise key railways between Nigeria’s commercial hub, Lagos, and the northern city of Kano and between Port Harcourt in the oil-rich Niger Delta and the northern city of Maiduguri – the birthplace of Boko Haram.
China, the top investor in Nigeria, already is deep into similar infrastructure work in the country.
Officials in Buhari’s delegation also will try to strike a deal with US aircraft manufacturer Boeing for a new state-owned airline project that Nigeria’s junior aviation minister, Hadi Sirika, has said will be the largest in Africa.
Nigerian officials are also expected to explore financing arrangements with the Export-Import Bank of the United States and the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
Irritants in ties
While Nigeria seeks closer military and security ties with the US, it can’t overlook the difficult moments since Trump came to power – not least Trump’s firing of former secretary of state Rex Tillerson just hours after Tillerson came to Nigeria on the highest-level US visit to Africa since Trump took office.
In December, Nigeria and several other African countries that are traditionally friendly with the US at the UN General Assembly voted to condemn Trump’s controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.