President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the U.S. to reconsider relocating U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM, from Stuttgart, Germany, to Africa, nearer the Theatre of Operation.
The president made the call at a virtual meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State, Mr Anthony Blinken, on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said AFRICOM, which partners 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.
The Nigerian leader urged the international community to support Nigeria and the sub-region in tackling growing security challenges to avoid spillovers.
He said: “The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively by exerting complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.
“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and its security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes.
“The support of important and strategic partners like U.S. 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 U.S. to consider re-locating AFRICOM Headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.’’
According to the president, Nigeria will enhance collaborations in all forms, with friends and strategic partners, to work together for greater security for all, which remains the most significant condition for overcoming the existential challenges.
Mr Buhari congratulated Blinken on his appointment by President Joe Biden and commended the U.S. for the decision to repeal the immigration restriction known as the “Muslim ban’’, re-joining the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
“Nigeria attaches great importance to its relations with the U.S.
“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 U.S. for re-joining the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The leadership of the U.S. in these two organisations is crucial for international community.
“This action is a demonstration of the U.S. commitment in championing and supporting international organisations with the aim to build a better world for all,’’ he added.
Mr Buhari stated that Nigeria would remain resolute in its 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 is a strong indication of the renewed interest of the U.S. 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.
On his part, the Secretary of State said that he was pleased to make Nigeria part of his “first virtual visit to Africa,” noting that Nigeria and the U.S. shared a lot in bilateral issues.
He added that he would be delighted to build on the foundation that was laid between the two countries more than 60 years ago.
He disclosed that areas of discussion with Nigeria would include “how to build our economies back after the COVID-19 pandemic, security for vulnerable communities and climate issues.”