- Â Says itâ€™s a win-win for both countries
Tokunbo Adedoja in Washington, DC
The bilateral meetings between President Muhammadu Buhari and the United States President Donald Trump, including meetings held with US businessmen, were engaging, productive and a win-win for both countries, the Nigerian delegation has said.
Briefing journalists on the gains of President Buhariâ€™s meetings in Washington last Monday, three Nigerian ministers who accompanied the president to the White House and were present in all the meetings held, said good business deals were struck and commitments were secured at the highest level of the two governments.
The ministers who briefed journalists were Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah; Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami; and Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama.
Giving journalists the run down on the issues discussed and composition of the meetings held behind closedâ€“doors at the White House, Onyeama said Buhari had a one-on-one meeting with Trump and then a working lunch made up of one+10 from each side.
At the working lunch where each of the two presidents and 10 members of his delegation were present, he said areas covered were essentially security, trade and governance issues.
At the Blair House where Buhari was accommodated, the minister said the president met with CEOâ€™s of six US companies with interests in agriculture. He said Buhari also met with a group of ten US business leaders from different sectors.
â€œIt was a good meeting and itâ€™s a win-win for both Nigeria and the US. There were a lot of wins,â€ Onyeamah said.
Speaking on issues discussed in the meetings at the White House, Onyeamah said: â€œIn the area of trade, of course, the objective was to increase the level of trade between Nigeria and the US. The two presidents agreed that concerted efforts would be made. The issues of market access, in this context, were discussed.
â€œOn the issue of security, the United States has been helping Nigeria, supplying military equipment in the fight against terrorism, and there is an agreement to continue the cooperation between the two countries in this context.
â€œIn the area of governance, the question of the return to Nigeria of large sums of money that have been siphoned out and lodged in banks in various jurisdictions around the world and the cooperation with the US in helping to repatriate these funds were also discussed and a commitment was made to continue the cooperation in this regard. So there were good wins.â€
The Industry, Trade and Investment minister, on his part, said: â€œToday has been a good day for the U S and itâ€™s actually a good day for Nigeria.â€
Noting that from experience, economic cooperation requires working at it from three levels, Enelamah said when those three levels click, then cooperation would go far.
The three levels, according to him are, government to government cooperation; government to business cooperation, and business to business cooperation.
These three levels, he noted, were involved in the meetings held last Monday.
â€œAt this particular meeting, the government to government level involved not only the two presidents meeting but also cabinet members were there,â€ Enelamah said.
For the government to business level, the minister said President Buhari met with various business leaders and had a very productive and engaging discussions with them.
According to him, in those meetings, â€œbusinesses were literally striking deals.â€
Speaking further, Enelamah said: â€œI think the necessary thing now is follow-ups. We stay engaged and build on what we know to be a good relationship between Nigeria and the US. I think what happened today just underscored it and we will not take it for granted.
Other companies which Buhari held meetings with include Boeing, Proctor and Gamble, General Electric, Flour Mills and Chevron.
On the quantum of investments expected from the meetings with CEOs of the American companies, Enelamah said each of these companies was committed to making investments that run into hundreds of millions of dollars and in aggregate, it will be in billions of dollars.
Malami on his part, disclosed that he would be meeting with US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, (last Tuesday) to discuss modalities for the repatriation of funds siphoned from Nigeria and hidden in various jurisdictions around the world.