At Bilateral Talks, Blinken Says Tinubu’s Reforms Are Bold

•Discloses US entrepreneurs eager to invest in Nigeria 

•Canvasses ease in capital repatriation

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

President Bola Tinubu on Tuesday held bilateral talks with the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who lauded some of the bold economic reforms embarked upon by the president since he assumed office on May 29, 2023.

Addressing newsmen in company with Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister, Yusuf Tuggar, after meeting with Tinubu, Blinken welcomed the president’s “bold reforms to unify the currency and end fuel subsidy”. He stressed the need to remove impediments to capital repatriation.

According to Blinken, “Nigeria offers real opportunities for investors. At the same time, I think it’s no secret that there remains long term challenges that need to be removed to be able to really unlock the full potential, making it easier for foreign companies to repatriate capital.

“There remains some impediments that we hear from our own business community that I think stand in the way of maximising those opportunities. One is the repatriation of capital. I know that the central bank governor is working on that.

“Second is the ongoing effort to combat corruption because companies that come in and invest want to make sure that they’re going to be investing with a fair, level playing field and corruption, of course, is a big impediment.”

Blinken, who arrived Nigeria as part of his four-nation African tour, stressed his country’s commitment to strengthening genuine partnership with countries in Africa to solve shared challenges.

He stated that the bilateral meeting with Tinubu revolved around a range of common priorities, including America’s focus on accelerating economic growth and opportunity in Nigeria.

Blinken said, “This is a place of extraordinary innovation, extraordinary dynamism. I’ve had the opportunity to visit many times over the years. I’ve seen that each and every time and I expect to see more of that latest tomorrow.

“American entrepreneurs, American companies are eager to partner and invest in Nigeria’s economy, particularly, in the tech sector.

“We have tech giants that are teamed up with Nigerian partners to help the president’s new one million digital jobs Initiative.

“Other companies are part of work laying undersea cables, using satellite technology to expand access to the internet. Our tech incubators are fostering Nigeria’s next start-ups.

“Our venture capital companies are working to finance, so we want to work in partnership to help drive Nigeria’s technological revolution, which is creating jobs. It’s growing businesses, and it’s growing innovations in both of our countries.

“Because one of the things we’ve learned from these partnerships is that it benefits us as much as any place or any country that we’re investing. We’re learning a lot from where we’re getting a lot.”

Blinken explained further, “One of the initiatives that President Biden laid out is the digital transformation with Africa Initiative. We see it as particularly energised and triggered focus for us.

“Now, Nigeria offers real, clear, compelling opportunities for investors. At the same time, I think it’s no secret that there remains some long term challenges that need to be overcome, to really unlock the full potential.

“Tackling corruption, and making it easier for foreign companies to repatriate capital. These will all pull in a transformative direction and pull in transformative direct investment.”

Acknowledging existing the cooperation between the US and Nigeria, Blinken explained, “Nigeria, as Africa’s largest country, largest economy, largest democracy, is essential to that effort. And we are doing a lot of work together already.

“To drive a positive direction, we’re driving climate action.

“We’re working in collaboration to support the development and use of artificial intelligence for goods with 30 other Atlantic countries. We’re driving blue economy development, environmental protection, science and technology exchange, through a new partnership for learning cooperation.”

Nigeria Tuggar, in his remarks, said the bilateral talks dealt with issues, such as, food security, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and security in the sub-region. He said the discussion was fruitful.

Blinken was received at the forecourt of Tinubu’s office about 6.55pm yesterday.

Apart from the foreign affairs minister, other government officials on hand to receive Blinken were Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris; and Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake.

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