United States President Donald Trump has invited President Muhammadu Buhari to a private meeting in Washington on April 30 to discuss issues pertaining fighting terrorism and economic growth.
The White House announced on Sunday that “President Trump looks forward to discussing ways to enhance our strategic partnership and advance our shared priorities: promoting economic growth and reforms, fighting terrorism and other threats to peace and security, and building on Nigeria’s role as a democratic leader in the region.
“The relationship of the United States with Nigeria is deep and strong, and Nigeria’s economic growth, security, and leadership in Africa will advance our mutual prosperity.”
President Buhari has been in the United Kingdom for a week now and has met with the British Prime Minister, Theresa May and both leaders discussed issues of bilateral relations, security and economic cooperation.
Trump’s announcement of the invitation came a day after the fourth anniversary of the Chibok schoolgirls abduction, which saw Boko Haram kidnap over 200 girls.
Some of the schoolgirls escaped in the immediate aftermath and four years on, 112 are believed to still being held.
Buhari’s White House visit also follows a scandal that erupted in January when Trump allegedly branded African nations “shithole countries.”
The reported remark triggered global outrage and forced the US president to write a letter reaffirming his commitment to the continent.
Nigeria was among the countries included on Trump’s ex-secretary of state Rex Tillerson’s Africa tour last month — though the former Texas oilman cut short the trip just before the US president sacked him.
Before returning to Washington, Tillerson had notably promised Nigeria’s support ranging from equipment to intelligence to helping secure the swift release of kidnapped schoolgirls.
Buhari had announced earlier this month he would seek re-election next year — a move that laid to rest months of speculation over his health.
The President had spent months in London last year seeking medical treatment for an undisclosed illness.
If nominated, he faces the Herculean task of convincing Nigerians he is the best candidate to steer the country out of its worst recession in 25 years, after implementing a series of unorthodox policies blamed for worsening the economic crisis.
He was voted into power in 2015 on the APC platform vowing to crack down on endemic graft and stamp out Boko Haram.
But Boko Haram still stages deadly attacks on military and civilian targets despite Buhari’s insistence that the group is “technically” defeated.
In February, the Islamists sect embarrassed the government by driving unopposed into the northeastern town of Dapchi and kidnapping over 100 schoolgirls.
Of the 111 who were kidnapped, 105 were returned by the jihadists following a ceasefire agreement with the government.