By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Economy, military assistance, countering extremism and terrorism were highlighted at a meeting between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and his American counterpart, Mike Pence, at the White House, Washington, D.C.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, said both leaders affirmed the mutual benefit inherent in a deeper bilateral relationship.
The meeting was held on Wednesday.
Both vice presidents, in their discussion on economy, military assistance and other issues, affirmed the need for continuous observation of the rule of law.
They also acknowledged Nigeria’s pride of place on the African continent and America’s reputed global leadership.
“Issues discussed at the nearly hour-long meeting and interactions between the two leaders include how to counter extremism, the threat of global terrorism, and the continuous observation of the rule of law, among others.
“While both leaders agreed on the need to strengthen the economy and markets generally, Osinbajo added that the US is a natural ally of Nigeria, as Nigeria and US have many things in common.’’
Osinbajo said that Nigeria, being the largest economy in Africa, offered great opportunities to US investors.
He said that his visit to the White House was to further deepen the relationship between the two nations and their people.
In their discussions on economic matters, Pence described Nigeria as a great country.
“Nigeria is a great country with a history of 200 million people; that’s a great nation. I want to see Nigeria prospering more.
“I am grateful that you reached out, the door is open for more dialogue.”
Pence urged Nigeria to continue to pursue market reforms in the economy and encourage an independent judiciary, adding that the rule of law would contribute to Nigeria’s future.
Both leaders also discussed Nigeria’s economic diversification efforts, during which Osinbajo spoke on how Nigeria was deepening the manufacturing industry and reforming the power sector to allow for more investors.
Osinbajo appreciated the support of USAID through its Power Africa initiative that was helping Nigeria to further open the space in the power sector.
On security challenges and military assistance, Osinbajo thanked the Trump administration for its support on the purchase order for the Tucano aircrafts, stressing that such military equipment would help Nigeria in the battle against terrorism and insurgency.
On government’s efforts to secure the release of Leah Sharibu, Osinbajo expressed the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to continue to negotiate for her release and that of the remaining abducted Chibok girls.
“Over 100 of the Chibok girls that were abducted even before President Buhari came into government have been released under the Buhari administration.
“Most of the Chibok girls, 90 per cent of them were also Christians,’’ Osinbajo said.
Pence, on his part, appreciated the efforts of the Nigerian government and offered US’s support in ensuring the release of others still abducted.
“I appreciate the perspective on Leah Sharibu; I am aware of the sensitive nature of her plight,” Pence said.
He noted that most of the girls that were released in the Chibok abduction were Christians.
Osinbajo recalled how Buhari was himself attacked by Boko Haram terrorists in 2014.
He said it was the firm and often publicly stated view of the President that anyone who killed an innocent person and then said “God is great” was either insane or simply did not understand what he was saying.
Osinbajo returned to Abuja on Thursday morning.