Okonjo-Iweala: Nigeria ready to work with US, says Buhari


Olalekan Adetayo and alexander okere

 The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Saturday welcomed the pronouncement of the Office of the United States Trade Representative, signifying withdrawal of the country’s objection to the emergence of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.

He said Nigeria and Africa were happy about US’ position, which he said, signified a shift and an important turnaround in the relations between the continent and the US under President Joe Biden.

Buhari made his position known in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled ‘President Buhari welcomes US acceptance of Okonjo-Iweala’s imminent WTO leadership.’

Shehu quoted Buhari as saying that, “We certainly welcome the decision of the new US administration to remove the last obstacle in the path of Dr Okonjo-Iweala to becoming the first female and the first person of African descent to lead the organisation.

“Nigeria and the entire African continent are happy about this new US position, which signifies a shift and an important turnaround in the relations between our continent and the United States under the Biden administration.

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“Today, we see that the United States stands with Nigeria and Africa with the acceptance of our widely respected citizen, Okonjo-Iweala to lead the WTO. We look forward to working very closely with the new US administration on this and all issues of common interests, especially in such areas as accelerated economic growth, fight against terrorism and deepening progress on development issues.’’

Meanwhile, Biden has said the United States will collaborate with the African Union to promote a shared vision of a prosperous future.

He said his administration would work with the international community to promote peace and security as well as the advancement of democracy and human rights.

He also called for more investment in global health.

Biden stated this in his message to participants at the 34th African Union Summit and published on the Twitter handle of The White House on Friday.

The theme of the summit is ‘Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want’.

He said, “I’m honoured to send the best wishes of the people of the United States in advance of the 34th African Union Summit. This past year has shown us how interconnected our world is and how our fate are bound together.

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“That’s why my administration is committed to rebuilding our partnership around the world and re-engaging with international institutions like the African Union.

“We must all work together to advance our shared vision of a better future – a future of growing trade and investment that advances prosperity for all our nations; future that advances lives and peace and security for all our citizens; a future committed to investing in our democratic institutions and promoting the human rights of all people – women and girls, LGBTQ individuals, people with disabilities and people of every ethnic background, religion and heritage.”

The US President said the international community must confront the serious challenges, including the deadly coronavirus, facing it to achieve the future it desires.”

These he said include investing more in global health, defeating COVID-19 and working to prevent, detect and respond to future health crises, and partnering with the African CDC and other institutions to advance health security.

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He added, “Raising our climate ambitions and ensuring development nations can mitigate and adapt to climate impacts that are already causing pain, and engaging in sustained diplomacy, in connection with the African Union to address conflicts that are costing lives all across the African continent.”

Biden, however, gave assurance that the US shares in the aspirations of African nations and would support them to surmount the challenges.

He added, “None of this is going to be easy; but the United States stands ready now to be your partner in solidarity, support and mutual respect. We believe in the nations of Africa, and the continent-wide spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation.

“Through challenges ahead, although they are great, there is no doubt that our nations, our people, the African Union – we’re up to this task.”

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