Fudge Leads Biden’s Delegation to Presidential Inauguration

•Blair visits Tinubu, pledges support for his administration

Michael Olugbode and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Honourable Marcia L. Fudge, has been selected by President Joe Biden, Jr. to lead the United States delegation to the inauguration of Nigeria’s 16th President, Bola Tinubu, holding on May 29.

A White House press statement on Monday announced the US presidential delegation to attend the inauguration of the president-elect and the vice president-elect, Tinubu, and Senator Kashim Shettima, respectively.

Relatedly, former British Prime Minister, Sir Tony Blair, expressed his readiness to support the Tinubu administration to succeed, during a visit to the president-elect.

According to a statement by the White House, Fudge would lead members of the delegation, among whom are Mr. David Greene, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., U.S. Embassy Abuja; the Honourable Sydney Kamlager-Dove, United States Representative, California; the Honourable Marisa Lago, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, U.S. Department of Commerce; and General Michael E. Langley, Commander of U.S. Africa Command.

Others are Honourable Enoh T. Ebong, Director, U.S. Trade and Development Agency; the Honourable Mary Catherine Phee, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Honourable Judd Devermont, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs, National Security Council; and Honourable Monde Muyangwa, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Africa, U.S. Agency for International Development.

Meanwhile, Blair, who gave his commitment yesterday, when he visited the president-elect at the Defence House, Abuja, said the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, which he founded, would be a willing partner of the Tinubu administration, especially in prioritising its goals and delivery.

He said since leaving office as the UK prime minister, he had been working with governments around the world to help them deliver on their mandates, noting that the Blair Institute has a project in Nigeria and he feels it is incumbent upon him to meet Nigeria’s incoming president to understand the administration’s priorities.

A statement from the office of the president-elect, signed by Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, quoted Blair as telling Tinubu, “We would like to help in any way with your administration. We only need to know what the leadership priorities are and help in how to actualise them.”

Blair commended Tinubu’s campaign focus on key areas of security, economy, agriculture and power, describing the intertwined nature of the issues as critical to the development of any society.

He expressed optimism that with the appetite shown by investors in Nigeria, the Tinubu administration could get the support it needed to spur economic development in the country.

But Blair also acknowledged the difficult task before Tinubu and other leaders, at a time of global turmoil.

He said, “Being in government today anywhere in the world is tough. You have things happening around the world, which affect you and for which you can’t do anything much.”

Tinubu, in his response, expressed appreciation to Blair for the visit and for his offer to work with his administration. He spoke of the shared vision between him and Tony Blair Institute in their priority areas, but underlined the importance of tackling investment challenges and the need for social investment to fight poverty.

The president-elect said, “Yes, we are challenged. But where is our courage? We can eliminate ignorance, diseases and poverty in Africa. We must work hard to ensure democracy works for our people. We have to invest more, put technology in place and keep terrorists at bay, because without effective security, there is no guarantee investors will come.”

He promised to provide a conducive environment that would encourage investors and open up opportunities for the people.

Tinubu was accompanied to the meeting by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; Vice President-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima; member of Tinubu Transition Team, Mr. Wale Edun; former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu; senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Adetokunbo Abiru; and Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council, Mr. Zacch Adedeji.

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