US Secretary of State speaks with Tinubu two weeks to inauguration as president

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken with President-elect Bola Tinubu ahead of the latter’s inauguration as Nigeria’s president on May 29.

A statement attributed to spokesperson for the US Department of State Matthew Miller confirmed that the conversation took place on Tuesday morning.

Mr Blinken, the statement said, emphasised “his continued commitment to further strengthening the U.S.-Nigeria relationship with the incoming administration.”

It added that 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.”

Mr. Tinubu, on his part, promised to hit the ground running and unify Nigeria upon his assumption of office as president, pledging also to ensure positive relations with the United States.

He said his immediate priorities would be institutional reforms and development programmes to deepen Nigeria’s democratic institutions and bring help to the poor and vulnerable.

A statement signed by Tinubu’s spokesman Tunde Rahman said the phone conversation lasted about 20 minutes and “President-elect Tinubu spoke about his eventful sojourn in America in the 70s, where he graduated with honours as an accountant in 1979.

“He also recalled how he was granted asylum by the US when, due to his determined struggle for democracy in Nigeria, he was forced into exile by the late General Sani Abacha’s military junta.

“While affirming his democratic bonafides, President-elect Tinubu expressed his absolute belief that the result of the elections, which he clearly won, reflected the will of the Nigerian people.

“He said he would work to unite the country and ensure that Nigerians are happy and enjoy the benefits of democracy and progressive good governance.

The statement added that Tinubu and Blinken “ended their discussion with pleasant greetings and a promise to keep the channels of dialogue and communication open, while maintaining a strong relationship between the two nations.”