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Relocate AFRICOM to Africa, Buhari pleads with United States govt; plans to meet US Secretary of State Over Security, Economy

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President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the United States to reconsider relocating US Africa Command (AFRICOM) from Stuttgart, Germany, to Africa, nearer to the Theatre of Operation. He made the plea on Tuesday in a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Mr Anthony Blinken, where he also called on the international community to support Nigeria and the sub-region in tackling growing security challenges to avoid spillovers.

Buhari said AFRICOM, which partners with countries to counter transnational threats, should be relocated to Africa to strengthen ongoing efforts to check the security situation, with likely effect on other nations. A statement issued by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity) quoted him as saying: “The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively, by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.

“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes. The support of important and strategic partners like the United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.

“In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider re-locating AFRICOM Headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.” The President said Nigeria will enhance collaborations in all forms, with friends and strategic partners, to work together for greater security for all, which remain the most significant condition for overcoming the existential challenges.

He congratulated Blinken on his appointment by President Joe Biden and commended the United States for the decision to repeal the immigration restriction known as the “Muslim ban,’’ re-joining the World Health Organization (WHO) and Paris Agreement on Climate Change. He congratulated Blinken on his appointment by President Joe Biden and commended the United States for the decision to repeal the immigration restriction known as the “Muslim ban,’’ re-joining the World Health Organization (WHO) and Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

President Buhari stated: “Nigeria attaches great importance to its relations with the United States. Let me in this connection express appreciation to President Joe Biden for his welcome and reaching decision to repeal the Immigration restriction known as the ‘Muslim ban’ on travel and visas for citizens predominantly from Muslim Nations and African Countries, including Nigeria.

“I also wish to congratulate the United States for re-joining the World Health Organization (WHO) and Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The leadership of the United States in these two organizations is crucial for the international community. “This action is a demonstration of the United States commitment in championing and supporting international organisations with the aim to build a better world for all.”

Buhari noted that Nigeria remains resolute in her commitment to supporting global efforts as enshrined in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which seeks to limit global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the President, the convening of the Climate Change Summit last week by President Biden was a strong indication of the renewed interest of the United States to the Paris Agreement.

“I would like to extend our goodwill message to President Joe Biden and his Administration. May I also thank you for initiating this meeting, which I am confident, given your background and current position, you will use to promote the existing bilateral relations between our two countries,’’ the President said.

In a related development, United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, will virtually meet with President Muhammadu Buhari over security and economic issues, a statement from the US State Department said on yeterday.

The meeting is part of Blinken’s first virtual trip to Africa, which begins on Tuesday. He is scheduled to visit Kenya and Nigeria while engaging with young people from across the continent. Blinken’s meeting with Buhari “will underscore our shared goals of strengthening democratic governance, building lasting security, and promoting economic ties and diversification,” the US State Department statement said.

The US top diplomat will also meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, to “reiterate the value of our bilateral relationship and discuss issues of shared importance.” The visit includes a health partnership event where Blinken is expected to meet with a Nigerian healthcare worker. The statement from the US Department of State reads: “Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will embark tomorrow, April 27 (today), on his first virtual trip to Africa, where he will visit Kenya and Nigeria and engage with young people from across the continent.

“Secretary Blinken will begin his virtual travel to Africa meeting with Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) alumni. In a “Ten Questions with Tony” event, YALI alumni will have an opportunity to engage with the Secretary on a range of topics, including the role of youths in the future of Africa, economic development, democracy and good governance, climate change, and health.

Through YALI, the United States works with public, private sector, and civil society partners across the continent to develop initiatives and economic opportunities to support the creativity, innovativeness, and energy of Africa’s youth.

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