President Bola Tinubu on Sunday, met with United States President Joe Biden and three other major counterparts from Germany, South Korea, and India on economic diplomacy and canvassed practical next steps in bilateral relations among the nations.
The meetings held on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in New Delhi were an opportunity for Tinubu to increase economic diplomatic relations at the bilateral and multilateral levels.
Tinubu, who departed New Delhi for Nigeria with a stopover in Abu Dhabi, also held bilateral talks with United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities, especially as regards pending disagreement between the two countries.
The president had audience with World Bank and European Commission presidents, and equally canvassed practical steps to improving bilateral relations with countries.
Hailing the federal government’s move to revive Nigeria’s ailing economy, Biden also applauded efforts by the Economic Community of West African (ECOWAS) resolve the Nigerien crisis.
A release by the presidential spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale, explained that Tinubu met with the leaders of the four nations, which had been identified as key partners in his economic development diplomacy drive for local investment and wealth creation.
For the leader of Africa’s largest economy, a meeting with the number one citizens of Europe’s largest economy, Germany, presented a unique opportunity to expand ties of prosperity for the people of Nigeria, with a pragmatic approach towards ensuring the effective execution of agreements struck.
According to the statement, Tinubu said, “It is not, for us, only a matter of designing the financial architecture for an expanded economic partnership. It is also about the practicality of aligning the perspectives of your large-scale manufacturers, such as Volkswagen and others, with the reality of the new incentives my government is putting in place for them to come and prosper across multiple value chains and sectors inside of our country.”
Apparently intrigued by the specific economic focus of the president’s proposal, German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, responded by acknowledging the mutually-beneficial nature of an escalation in the scale of economic ties with Africa’s largest economy.
Scholz told Tinubu, “Thank you for this important discussion, Mr. President. I can appreciate this opportunity to advance our economic relations. Your market is unique and our companies have history in Nigeria. We acknowledge the business-friendly reforms you have put in place. I am happy to inform you of my desire to visit you in Nigeria in October, which will allow us to carry forward these initiatives.”
Tinubu accepted the German chancellor’s request to visit Nigeria, and proceeded to meet with the leader of Asia’s fourth largest economy, South Korea.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol commended the Nigerian president’s regional leadership in democratic tenets and norms.
Yeol said, “I wish to commend your strong leadership, following the peaceful transfer of power to you from your predecessor, and we see a stable country in West Africa that is growing in stature.”
Tinubu responded by swiftly steering the discussion towards his economic focus, as he advanced proposals for an enhanced South Korean presence in Nigeria’s local manufacturing sector.
He stated, “We will leave nothing hanging. We will finalise what we agree to and we will execute. We will work point by point with you to secure rapidly implementable MoUs across sectors of partnership that will involve the active presence of your biggest firms, not just in terms of Nigerian consumption, but in local Nigerian production, from telecommunications to technology, and oil and gas.”
The South Korean president said Nigeria’s education, technology and energy sectors were of utmost interest to South Korean investors. He promised to mobilise South Korea’s business community to take advantage of the new Nigerian incentives for local industry.
Tinubu concluded formal discussions at the G-20 summit with the Asian giant and host nation, India, which had invited Nigeria to the meeting, as he met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He told the Indian leader, “There are many lessons our nation can learn from the rapid progress that India has made under your leadership. We see fantastic opportunity between our nations across sectors, such as agricultural development, but specifically, there is more we can do to advance ICT innovation and the emergence of Blue-Chip FinTech growth in Africa. Nigeria has the local players, who can drive it from the front.”
Modi commended the proposal for economic partnership, saying, “Our teams must now stay close in touch to detail our priority areas of up-scaled cooperation with respect to agriculture, defence, industries, capacity building, and even FinTech growth. I see your commitment. We believe there are immense prospects for Nigeria in the UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and we will ensure that we come together and make progress on these fronts very rapidly.”
Still on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, Tinubu had substantive informal interactions with Biden; European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen; and World Bank President, Ajay Banga, among many others.
Shedding more light on the meeting between Tinubu and Biden, the US government, in briefing room statements and releases, accessed at www.whitehouse.gov, stated that during the discussion, Biden hailed Tinubu for the steps taken so far to revive Nigeria’s economy since he became president on May 29.
The US president also applauded Tinubu’s role as ECOWAS Chairman with respect to the restoration of democratic governance in Niger Republic and beyond.
The statement said, “President Joe Biden met with Nigerian President Bola Tinubu today on the sidelines of the G20 in New Delhi, India, to reinforce our enduring commitment to the US-Nigeria relationship and to the longstanding friendship between our two countries and peoples.
“President Biden welcomed the Tinubu administration’s steps to reform Nigeria’s economy and thanked President Tinubu for his strong leadership as the chair of the Economic Community of West African States to defend and preserve democracy and the rule of law in Niger and the broader region. Nigeria’s invitation to the G20 Summit is a recognition of Nigeria’s important global role as Africa’s largest democracy and economy.”
Biden had last month formally hinted of his readiness to meet with Tinubu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, which is expected to hold in New York this month.
The U.S. Presidential Envoy and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Molly Phee, who spoke during a courtesy visit to Tinubu at State House, Abuja, extended an exclusive invitation from Biden to meet Tinubu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City to advance discussions further in late September. The president accepted the invitation.
Meanwhile, Tinubu, according to another statement by Ngelale, met with the leadership of UAE during a technical stopover in Abu Dhabi, UAE, after his departure from New Delhi.
The meeting was a follow-up discussion to address specific, salient issues within the bilateral relationship after conversations held during a recent visit by the UAE Ambassador to the president at State House, Abuja.
Tinubu addressed lingering bilateral issues, while maximising the opportunity of the stopover to advance his investment promotion objectives with high-level authorities in the public and private sectors of the UAE.
Tinubu was expected to return to Abuja after the bilateral engagement in Abu Dhabi.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja