President of the United States, Donald Trump, has invited President Muhammadu Buhari for a state visit which details will be worked out by officials of both countries.
The invitation was extended to Buhari in a telephone conversation yesterday during which the two leaders discussed issues of mutual interest.
President Buhari’s spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, made this known in a statement yesterday adding that the phone conversation was on the request of the American president.
President Buhari spoke from London where he is currently on an extended medical vacation and undergoing series of tests recommended by his doctors.
Adesina said the visit will take place at a mutually convenient date.
He described the conversation as cordial saying President Buhari congratulated Trump on his election as president of the United States and on his cabinet appointments.
He said both leaders discussed ways to improve cooperation in the fight against terrorism through provision of necessary equipment.
Adesina quoted Trump as encouraging President Buhari to keep up “the good work he is doing.”
He said Trump also commended Buhari for the efforts made in rescuing 24 of the Chibok Girls and the strides being taken by the Nigerian military.
Adesina said Trump assured President Buhari of US readiness to cut a new deal in helping Nigeria in terms of military weapons.
This is the first time Trump has spoken to any African leader since his inauguration.
The American President has since been putting calls to other world leaders to inform them of his action plans towards the eradication of terrorism in America.
President Trump also spoke with South African leader, Jacob Zuma after he ended his conversation with Buhari.
Diplomatic experts react
Diplomatic experts have hailed the phone conversation between President Donald Trump and President Muhammadu Buhari, saying that the invitation extended to the Nigerian leader is recognition of the country’s position in the international community.
They said issues of international terrorism and economy are expected to be on the front burner during their proposed meeting.
“Although, United States is assisting Nigeria in terms of security, but the country has a new administration. It is for president Buhari to push Donald Trump to continue providing support America has been rendering to Nigerian armed forces to prosecute the war against Boko Haram,” said a retired diplomat, Ambassador Suleiman Dahiru.
According to him, United States is a political and economic power in the world, so also Nigeria in Africa. He said U.S would like to relate with Nigeria to benefit from what it has to offer as a frontline state in Africa.
For ambassador Chive Kaave, former Nigerian envoy to Argentina, both leaders need to emphasise on the issue of international trade during their meeting, saying both countries have a lot to benefit from each other.
“The United States used to be the major importer of our crude oil and during Obama’s presidency that dropped drastically such that the country imports no crude oil from Nigeria anymore,” he said.
He said President Buhari is expected to discuss economic issues with the American leader to seek ways of getting Nigeria out of recession.
He expressed hope that after Buhari’s visit, Trump, unlike Obama, would reciprocate by visiting Nigeria, noting that the American leader’s visit would go a long way in strengthening the cooperation between both countries.
Buhari’s Washington visit may take up to six months
Ambassador Dahiru, however, said Buhari’s proposed visit may take six months before it takes place as both leaders have to mutually agree on the date that will be convenient for them.
“Every foreign leader has his own calendar of activities. They have to check when they can accommodate the visit before officials of the two countries would start working out the modalities.
“It is not something that we should expect in the next 1,2,3 or 4 months. It will take even six months from now, because the American president himself is very busy. He has a full calendar of activities.
“That’s why when you invite a foreign leader, you say it will be mutually decided. This is because both parties have to agree on time that is convenient for both sides,” he said.