Nigeria: Trump Calls Buhari 'So Lifeless' After April Meeting - Financial Times

Photo: Bayo Omoboriowo
President Trump hosts a joint press conference with President Buhari in the Rose Garden at the White House on Monday, April 30, 2018.
27 August 2018

The world's leading global business publication, Financial Times said US president, Donald Trump described his April meeting with Nigeria president, Muhammadu Buhari as 'so lifeless' in an article titled 'Africa looks for something new out of Trump' as Kenya president visits the White House.

Trump met Buhari on April 30 at Washington as the two leaders discussed issues including "fighting terrorism" and economic growth.

Buhari was the first sub-Saharan African leader to visit Trump at the White House for a bilateral talk that touched on security, economy, trade, investment and governance.

The Financial Times in its latest article claimed that the meeting ended with Trump warning his aides that he never wanted to meet someone so lifeless again.

"The first meeting, with Nigeria's ailing 75-year-old Muhammadu Buhari in April, ended with the US president telling aides he never wanted to meet someone so lifeless again, according to three people familiar with the matter," the newspaper claimed.

Trump will welcome Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta to the White House on Monday for what will be only the second one-on-one meeting the US president has held with an African leader since he took office.

The newspaper added that advocates of closer US-Africa ties hope his encounter with the younger, more urbane Mr Kenyatta, 56, will breathe fresh life into a relationship with a region that Washington is seen to have neglected as other countries, notably China, develop ever-closer trade and investment ties with the continent.

The Presidency has not reacted to this article.

However, Trump praised Buhari during the joint-press conference held after the meeting in April.

"Nigeria has a reputation for very massive corruption. I also know that the President (Buhari) has been able to cut that down very substantially. We talked about that, he is working on it and they have made a lot of progress and I think they will continue to make a lot of progress," Trump said at the Press conference.

Nigeria government officials that also attended the meeting said it was fruitful.

Gov. Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun said the meeting was "very fruitful, insightful and successful", adding that it was a deep-rooted meeting.

"He (Trump) showed what I would call 'approval' for almost all that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is doing.

"They followed what was happening, may be, in the last 20 years or so.

"They recognised the fact that things are tough and they appreciate the efforts of Mr President, but that there's always room for improvement," Amosun said.

The Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S., Sylvanus Nsofor, could not hide his joy for the turnout of the event at the meeting.

"We have succeeded," he said, adding that the meeting went smoothly with Trump and other bilateral engagements that Buhari and the Nigerian delegation attended.

"That the President of Nigeria came to see the President of America in my own time as the Ambassador and that everything went smoothly and successfully give me joy," Amb. Nsofor added.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the gains of the visit covered security, trade and governance issues.

"On trade, the objective was to increase the level of trade between Nigeria and the United States. The two presidents agreed that concerted efforts will be made to ensure this.

"On security, the United States has been helping Nigeria, supplying military equipment in the fight against terrorism and there is the agreement to continue the cooperation between the two countries in this context," Onyeama added.

In the area of governance, he said the return of large sums of money syphoned out and lodged in banks around the world, back to Nigeria was discussed.

The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, pointed out three key remarks made by Trump that conveyed approval to Buhari-led administration.

"Three key remarks from President Trump has indeed consolidated on the general overview of what transpired between the two presidents.

"President Trump acknowledged that President Buhari is a real leader.

"Trump acknowledged the fact that he has much respects for him (Buhari) and further consolidated the position by a clear remark that he (Buhari) has indeed succeeded in cutting down corruption."

Malami said the U.S. government was committed to clearing the bureaucratic bottlenecks on repatriation of over 500 million dollars back to Nigeria.

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