President Buhari Meets With U.S Secretary Of State, John Kerry

John KerryIn continuation of his working visit to the United States of America, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has met with U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry.

The meeting, which held at the United States Department of State, got the U.S., again pledging to work very closely with the President to tackle issues of terrorism by taking on Boko Haram headlong until they are completely rooted out.

Mr Kerry described Nigeria as extraordinarily important in the committee of nations and observed that President Buhari’s military background is a plus for Nigeria in the fight against terror.

He said that America was also delighted that President Buhari is deeply committed to rooting out corruption in the system.

In his response, President Buhari reiterated his earlier view that it was America’s pressure on the past administration that made the 2015 to be credible, saying that Nigeria remained pleased to be working with America.

Buhari On CNN, Says Chibok Girls’ Return Is Priority

CNNPresident Buhari has again made it clear that the safety and return of the Chibok girls is a priority to his government.

Answering questions on the CNN programme, Amanpour, President Buhari said that his government would be willing to negotiate with the Boko Haram sect as long as there are assurances that the leadership of the sect coming forward was genuine, noting that rescuing and rehabilitating the Chibok girls remained paramount.

“We have to be very careful about the credibility of various Boko Haram leaderships coming up and claiming that they can deliver.

“We have to be very careful indeed and we are taking our time because we want to bring them (Chibok girls) safe back to their parents and to their school.”

President Buhari also linked the efforts to develop the Nigerian economy, which is a major demand among Nigerians, to security.

“My people, I believe, want the security in the country to be stabilized so that normal life (can resume) both in the southern part of the country where the militants are still sabotaging oil installations, kidnapping people and demanding ransom and in the north-east where Boko Haram is still active.

“This is a realistic way of looking at things. Nothing will work until the country is secure.”

He also promised to tackle corruption, making it clear that there will be no sacred cow. “There will not be any party member or any personality that can escape justice,” he said.

The President is also optimistic that his American counterpart, Barack Obama would visit Nigeria in the near future.

 

U.S Agrees To Help Nigeria Recover Stolen Funds

ill-gotten wealthThe United States government has agreed to assist Nigeria recover all identified ill-gotten wealth in countries in which they have jurisdiction, including the U.S itself.

The Nigerian President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, made this known in a statement.

The United States will also offer training to judicial staff and prosecutors “in order to place Nigeria in a good position to uncover proceeds of corruption and for improved prosecution of cases of crime.”

Details emerging from Monday’s meeting between President Buhari and the United States Attorney-General, Loretta Lynch, on the subject of support for the war on corruption in Nigeria indicate that the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty signed between the two countries in 1985 which came into effect in 2003 would be given some teeth.

“There will be collaboration. Each of the two countries will receive legal assistance from the other on criminal matters and that should cover the recovery of ill-gotten wealth.

“On extradition, we already have a treaty with U.S. By virtue of being a former British colonial territory.

“There is, however, the possibility that Nigeria might negotiate a new extradition treaty to meet our other requirements. The negotiation will be done under the auspices of a ‘re-energized’ U.S-Nigeria Bi-National Commission.”

World Bank To Spend $2.1 Billion In Rebuilding North-East Nigeria

World BankThe World Bank has unfolded a package which would see it spending up to $2.1 billion in rebuilding the badly devastated North-eastern part of Nigeria, ravaged for the past six years by the Boko Haram insurgency.

At a meeting in Washington on Tuesday with representatives of the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Health Organization (WHO), President Buhari said that apart from rebuilding the region in terms of infrastructure, priority must also be given to the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), who now number over one million.

He urged the World Bank to send a team, which would work in concert with a team from the Federal Government, so that a proper assessment of needs could be done.

The World Bank will spend the 2.1 billion dollars through its IDA (International Development Agency), which gives low interest rates loans to government.

The first 10 years will be interest free, while an additional 30 years will be at lower than capital market rate.

The World Bank is eager to move in quickly, give out the loans, and give succour to the people of North-east, long at the mercy of an insurgency that has claimed over 20,000 souls.

WHO is also to invest 300 million dollars on immunization against malaria in Nigeria, while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will collaborate with Dangote Foundation to ensure that the country maintains its zero polio case record of the past one year.

If the effort is sustained for another two years, Nigeria will be declared fully free of polio.

Buhari To Appoint Ministers In September

BuhariPresident Muhammadu Buhari says he would not appoint members of his cabinet until September.

The President Buhari gave this hint in an opinion published by Washington Post before the meeting with President Barack Obama.

He urged Nigerians to be patient with his administration because, according to him, all things become difficult before they become easy.

The President also said that his decision to keep the appointments till September is similar to the decision taken by President Obama when he assumed office.

In his words, “When cabinet ministers are appointed in September, it will become months after I took the oath of office. It is worth noting that Obama himself did not have his full cabinet in place for several months after first taking office.

“The United States did not cease to function in the interim. In Nigeria’s case, it would neither be prudent nor serve the interests of sound government to have made these appointments immediately on my elevation to the presidency, instead, Nigeria must first put new rules of conduct and good governance in place.”

Buhari Writes In Washington Post, Restates Commitment To Fighting Corruption, Terror

Washington PostTo coincide with a meeting on Monday in Washington DC with President Barack Obama, President Muhammadu Buhari has written an opinion article in the Washington Post addressing some of the fundamental challenges facing his Presidency.

Key among the issues are corruption and insecurity. He explains some of his decisions since assuming office, including the recent reshuffling in the leadership of the Nigerian military.

“Our new military leadership has not been chosen because of their familiarity with those in government, as was too often the case in the past, but on their track records and qualifications alone.

“These new military leaders will be based in Borno State in northern Nigeria, where the headquarters of the armed services has been relocated.

“This shift of resources and command directly to the front line, in addition to the replacement of the head of the State Security Service, Nigeria’s intelligence organization, and a new emphasis on working in partnership with our neighbours, has equipped us to take the fight directly to Boko Haram.”Washington Post

The President, in the Washington Post article, also asked for patience in the campaign against Boko Haram; “While we work to defeat the terrorists, I ask the people of Nigeria and the world for resolve and fortitude.

“The campaign we will wage will not be easy; it may not be swift. We should expect stages of success and also moments when it may appear that our advances have been checked. But no one should have any doubt as to the strength of our collective will or my commitment to rid this nation of terror and bring back peace and normalcy to all affected areas.”

On the importance of good governance, and the appointment of cabinet ministers, the President wrote, “It would neither be prudent nor serve the interests of sound government to have made these (cabinet) appointments immediately on my elevation to the Presidency; instead, Nigeria must first put new rules of conduct and good governance in place.

“I cannot stress how important it is to ensure that this process is carried out correctly, just as it has been crucial to first install the correct leadership of the military and security services before we fully take the fight to Boko Haram.”

U.S Pressure Made Nigeria’s Transition Peaceful – President Buhari

Muhammadu-Buhari-Obama-visitPresident Muhammadu Buhari said on Monday that the continued pressure on the immediate past administration by the United States and some European countries made the general elections in Nigeria to be free and fair.

The President said this while responding to the welcome remarks by President Barack Obama before the start of the bilateral meeting between officials of both countries at the Oval Office of the White House, Washington DC on the second day of the visit.

President Buhari, who noted that without the external pressure, “we would not be where we are today” in Nigeria, recalled that the pressure started from the visit of the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry to the past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega.

“Nigeria will be ever grateful to President Obama and the United States for making Nigeria consolidate its gains on democracy,” the President said.

On his trip to the United States, the President said he looked forward to a fruitful visit and engagement with his host government, while expressing delight that the United States government had indicated interest in partnering and helping the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration to bring to fruition its goals of tackling insecurity, corruption and youth unemployment.

In his welcome remarks, President Obama said that President Buhari came into office with a reputation of integrity and a clear agenda and preparedness to bringing peace to Nigeria, curtailing Boko Haram insurgency and rooting out corruption.

“On both issues of tackling insurgency and corruption in Nigeria, we look forward to how the United States can partner Nigeria to become an outstanding role model for developing countries,” President Obama said.

While describing Nigeria as a one of the most important countries in Africa, he also commended the peaceful election and transition that brought President Buhari to power.

While also lauding Nigeria’s track record in tackling Ebola and polio, President Obama also said the United States looked forward to engaging Nigeria in improving its electricity challenges.

The governors of Edo, Oyo, Imo, Borno and Nasarawa states and other top Nigerian government officials joined Presidents Buhari and Obama for the bilateral talks.

President Buhari, V. President Biden Compare Notes On Anti-Terror War

BuhariThe breakfast meeting hosted on Monday by American Vice President, Joe Biden, afforded him opportunity to compare notes with his guest, President Muhammadu Buhari on the terror war.

The Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, revealed this in a statement.

At the meeting, which held at the Naval Observatory, official residence of the American Vice President, Biden shared with his guest what the U.S had learnt from the terror war, counseling that victory cannot come from military option alone.

America had been beleaguered by terrorists, who launched massive attacks that killed thousands in September 2001, while Nigeria battles the Boko Haram sect causing carnage in the North-eastern part of the country.

Vice President Biden said that the military option must be combined with strong socioeconomic support programmes, promising that the U.S would work with Nigeria in that direction.

VP Biden also gave an assurance of the goodwill of the United States in rebuilding the Nigerian economy, but observed that corruption and weak institutions must be tackled, if Nigeria was to benefit from reforms.

He added that seasoned technocrats must manage key sectors of the Nigerian economy and only then would investors be attracted to the country.

The American Vice-President congratulated President Buhari on his victory at the March 2015 elections, adding that it was obvious that the President enjoyed the confidence of the Nigerian people.

Responding, President Buhari thanked the U.S for standing by Nigeria in the run up to general elections early the year, noting that the visit of the Secretary of State, John Kerry, was critical as it sent home the message that America would not brook the subversion of the people’s will.

On oil theft, the Nigerian President estimated losses at between 10 and 20 billion dollars, stressing that such income could have been deployed with salutary impact on various spheres of national life like education and healthcare, among others.

Both America and Nigeria pledged renewed commitment to work as partners at the meeting.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s Son, Beau Dies of Brain Cancer

Joe Biden
Joe Biden (R) is seen with his son Beau Biden at the Democratic National Convention 2008

Former Delaware Attorney General, Beau Biden, son of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, died on Saturday after battling brain cancer, the vice president said. He was 46.

“The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words,” Vice President Biden said in a statement released by the White House.

“We know that Beau’s spirit will live on in all of us, especially through his brave wife, Hallie, and two remarkable children, Natalie and Hunter,” he said.

Beau Biden had announced last year he planned to run for governor of Delaware in 2016.

He was diagnosed with brain cancer in August 2013 and underwent surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. After getting a “a clean bill of health” in November of that year, his cancer recurred in the spring of 2015, the vice president’s office said.

He sought aggressive treatment and had been hospitalized this month at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center outside Washington. His family was with him when he died.

“Beau embodied my father’s saying that a parent knows success when his child turns out better than he did,” the vice president said. “In the words of the Biden family: Beau Biden was, quite simply, the finest man any of us have ever known.”

Beau Biden was very close to his father and a familiar presence in his political campaigns.

After eight years as attorney general in Delaware, Beau Biden joined the investor law firm Grant & Eisenhofer in 2015.

He served a year-long tour in Iraq as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard. He suffered a mild stroke in 2010.

President Barack Obama said he and his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, were grieving. He paid warm tribute to Beau Biden, saying he took after his father.

“He studied the law, like his dad, even choosing the same law school. He chased a life of public service, like his dad, serving in Iraq and as Delaware’s Attorney General,” Obama said in a statement.

“Like his dad, Beau was a good, big-hearted, devoutly Catholic and deeply faithful man, who made a difference in the lives of all he touched, and he lives on in their hearts.”

The vice president has not publicly ruled out a run for president in 2016, but he would face tough odds to gain an advantage over his friend, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is far ahead in public opinion polls in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Clinton expressed condolences over Twitter on Saturday.

“My heart is broken for the family of Beau Biden – a wonderful man who served his country with devotion and lived his life with courage,” she wrote.

The vice president has faced family tragedy before.

Shortly after winning election to the U.S. Senate in 1972, his wife Neilia and three children were in a car crash. Neilia and their daughter were killed, while their two sons, Beau and Hunter, were injured.

Biden opted not to move to Washington, choosing instead to make the 2 1/2-hour daily round-trip train commute from Delaware to his Senate job so he could spend more time with his sons. He married Jill Jacobs some five years after his first wife died.

Biden took office as vice president when Obama entered the White House in January 2009. He has a deep knowledge of Washington politics after decades in Congress and a folksy, avuncular style that contrasts with what many consider Obama’s more aloof manner.

Biden regularly mentions his family in speeches and sometimes has his grandchildren accompany him on diplomatic trips abroad.

Biden Warns On Ukraine As Russia Dismisses Sanctions Threat

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk attend a media briefing in Kiev

 U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, told Russia on Tuesday that “time is short” for action on defusing the crisis in eastern Ukraine, but Moscow said it could handle any tougher economic sanctions the West might impose.

Speaking on a visit to Kiev, Biden called on Moscow to pull back troops built up on Ukraine’s borders and to “stop talking and start acting” on getting Russian separatists who have seized control in eastern towns and cities to disarm.

The United States has repeatedly warned Russia it faces “mounting costs” if it fails to ensure full implementation of an international agreement struck last week on calming the crisis. This stipulates the rebels must leave the government buildings that they have occupied in the past two weeks.

Russia has in turn accused the Ukrainian government of stirring up the trouble and told Washington it must influence Kiev to prevent “hotheads” from provoking a bloody conflict.

Biden, however, put the onus on Moscow. “We’ve heard a lot from Russian officials in the past few days. But now it’s time for Russia to stop talking and start acting,” he told a news conference. “We will not allow this to become an open ended process. Time is short in which to make progress.”

Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and the eastern rebellion have deepened the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War, and Biden demanded the removal of Russian forces near Ukraine’s frontier which Moscow insists are merely on exercises.

“No nation should threaten its neighbors by amassing troops along the border. We call on Russia to pull these forces,” Biden said after meeting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk.

Moscow denies it is orchestrating the militants, who say they want the chance to join Crimea in becoming part of Russia following the overthrow of Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovich after months of street protests in Kiev.

But Washington, which signed last week’s accord in Geneva along with Moscow, Kiev and the European Union, has said it would decide “in days” on additional sanctions if Russia does not take steps to implement the agreement.

In Moscow, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the country could deal with tougher measures if necessary.

“We shan’t give up on cooperation with foreign companies, including from Western countries, but we will be ready for unfriendly steps,” he told parliament.

“I am sure we can minimize their impact,” he said. “We will not allow our citizens to become hostages of political games.”

So far the United States and EU have imposed visa bans and asset freezes on only a limited number of Russians over the annexation of Crimea last month.

Medvedev said some Russian banks had been shut out of international payments systems, calling this “a violation of existing agreements” which “must not go unpunished”.

Obama invites Tinubu for his nomination acceptance

The National leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is to attend the three-day National Convention of the United States Democratic Party that kicks off today in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Local media report that Mr Tinubu who was invited to the Democratic National Convention in his right as the leader of the opposition in Nigeria will be at the ring side as the Democratic Party conduct activities that will culminate in the nomination of President Barrack Obama as its candidate for the November 2012 Presidential elections in the USA.

The former Lagos State governor will be accompanied by the Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi,  Dele Alake and the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji

The Republican Party at the weekend confirmed the nomination of Mitt Romney as its candidate.

A statement by Sunday Dare, the Special Adviser on Media to the former Lagos state governor reads: “Tinubu receives a gold card invitation which is prime and with this, he will be joined by three other eminent personalities – Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state, Speaker Lagos state House of Assembly Adeyemi Ikuforiji and former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos state, Mr Dele Alake.

“On Thursday, at Bank of America stadium, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will deliver their nomination acceptance speeches.

Four years ago when President Obama was inaugurated, Mr Tinubu also enjoyed a ring side seat at the event in Washington.

Mr Tinubu’s invitation to attend the convention comes after a successful one week lecture tour, town hall meeting and book launch in Washington and Chicago.

He delivered a lecture at the prestigious Wilson Center for International scholars on the challenges facing Nigeria’s democratic experiment and offered solutions to problems of under development facing the country.

Similarly at a town hall meeting in Chicago with Governors Rauf Aregbesola  and Abiola Ajimobi  on hand, Tinubu spoke extensively on Nigeria’s search for true federalism and highlighted the fault lines in the country’s practice of federalism.

At the convention, Tinubu  is expected to discuss how to entrench true  federalism in Nigeria in his private discussions with the leading figures of the Obama administration and  seek the US support for Nigeria to hold a free and fair election in 2015.