Controversy Surrounds US-Nigeria Phone Call: Blinken and Tinubu Discuss Bilateral Ties Amidst Disputed Election
A recent telephone conversation between United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and Nigerian President-elect, Bola Tinubu, has sparked anger and controversy. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party expressed dismay over the call, given the ongoing dispute surrounding Tinubu’s victory in the election. This article delves into the details of the conversation, the reactions from political figures, and the potential implications for Nigeria’s relationship with the United States.
The Phone Call and Blinken’s Pledge:
During their 20-minute conversation, Secretary Blinken assured Tinubu of stronger ties between the United States and Nigeria under his leadership. The discussion emphasized inclusive leadership, comprehensive security cooperation, and reforms to support economic growth. Blinken reaffirmed the importance of the US-Nigeria partnership and expressed commitment to further strengthen it with the incoming administration.
The PDP’s standard bearer, Atiku Abubakar, who is challenging Tinubu’s victory at the tribunal, criticized the conversation. He claimed that Blinken’s assurances contradicted the US government’s previous statement acknowledging concerns about the conduct and technical flaws of the presidential election. Similarly, the Chief Spokesman for Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko, expressed concern over Blinken discussing bilateral relations with Tinubu.
Tinubu’s Response and Priorities:
In response to Blinken’s call, Tinubu assured the Secretary of State that he would hit the ground running and work towards unifying the country upon assuming office on May 29. He pledged to prioritize institutional reforms, development programs, and the well-being of impoverished and vulnerable Nigerians. Tinubu highlighted Nigeria’s importance in Africa and requested US assistance in security and economic investment to set an example for the continent.
US Engagement and Skepticism:
The US engagement with Tinubu drew skepticism and criticism. Atiku Abubakar expressed disbelief on Twitter, stating that the call contradicted the US government’s public position on Nigeria’s presidential election. He referred to the election as a “sham” and emphasized the potential demoralization of citizens who believe in democracy. The Deputy National Youth Leader of the PDP, Timothy Osadolor, cautioned Tinubu not to be swayed by the call, considering it as an endorsement of his victory.
The telephone conversation between Secretary Blinken and President-elect Tinubu has ignited controversy and differing opinions in Nigeria’s political landscape. While Blinken emphasized strengthening bilateral relations, critics argue that the call could undermine the legitimacy of the disputed election. As the nation awaits the court’s decision on the election outcome, the implications of this conversation on Nigeria’s relationship with the United States remain uncertain.