White House officials confirmed Monday’s telephone conversation between President Donald Trump and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that U.S. President Trump spoke with the Nigerian president during his introductory remarks ahead of Tuesday’s press briefing, reports Premium Times.
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“Before I get in to the President’s schedule for today, a quick recap of the President’s activity over the last few days, since we haven’t had the honor of spending so much time together,” Spicer told reporters.
“In addition to his in-person meetings with the prime ministers of Japan and Canada, the President also recently had phone calls with the presidents of Tunisia, Peru, Nigeria, Colombia, and South Africa.”
Spicer then added that the “Readouts are available on all of those calls.”
President Buhari has been away in London for more than three weeks on emergency medical leave. His absence and a later request sent to the Nigerian parliament to extend his leave indefinitely fueled wild speculation in the local media that the 74-year-old Buhari was terminally ill and in critical condition.
Consequently, many Nigerians were unconvinced that he was well enough to have a telephone conversation with Trump. An apparent delay from White House staff in confirming the telephone conversation on official social media further heightened speculation that the call between the two leaders was a ruse.
Earlier on Monday, though, President Buhari’s media spokesman Femi Adesina disclosed to CNN that Mr. Buhari had spoken to his American counterpart from London, where he is receiving medical treatment.
Adesina said the conversation between the two was cordial and that Buhari congratulated Trump on his recent election as the president of the United States.
“President Trump encouraged President Buhari to keep up the good work he is doing, and also commended him for the efforts made in rescuing 24 of the Chibok Girls and the strides being taken by the Nigerian military,” Adesina said.
He added that Mr. Trump assured Nigeria of the United States’ readiness to partner with the country in its fight against terrorism through the provision of military hardware and capacity building.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. Despite a recent recession, it continues to boast one of the continent’s most important economies and is considered a key figure in America’s diplomatic relations with Africa.