US President Barack Obama met with his newly elected Nigerian counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday, endorsing the Nigerian president’s struggle against the militant group Boko Haram and also his efforts to exterminate corruption in the country.
Obama praised Buhari for his efforts to bring "safety, security and peace" in Nigeria despite economic difficulties and violence by the militant group Boko Haram.
The two leaders met in the White House in Buhari’s first visit after being elected last March, discussing about the importance in having good relations between the two countries and ways they could work together against the militant group Boko Haram.
Boko Haram has been fighting a six-year insurgency in a bid to establish a state of its own in northern Nigeria and in the process has killed thousands of people, causing about 1.5 million to flee their homes.
The group captured a number of towns and villages in Northeast Nigeria last year, but has been pushed back by a four-nation military offensive conducted by Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad in February.
“Buhari has a very clear agenda in defeating Boko Haram extremists of all sorts inside his country,” Obama told reporters in the White House.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest announced that the US could offer intelligence to help the country and give aid for communities affected by the group.
As part of Nigeria’s first democratic handover of power, Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as president following victory in March 28 elections in which Obama called "an affirmation to Nigeria's commitment to democracy.”
“Nigeria will remain ever grateful to President Obama and the United States for making Nigeria to consolidate its gains on a democratic system,” Buhari said.
“The visit of the Secretary of State, when he visited Nigeria to see the President and the whole government of Nigeria, see the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission for Nigeria, and saw the operation was very clear and a positive trend that saw us through for this credible election we had,” he added.
The US wants to forge closer economic ties with Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, after relations with Egypt and South Africa, two of Africa’s other big powers, have weakened.
Obama said Nigeria is one of the most important countries on the African continent and in the world, praising Buhari's efforts in exterminating corruption in the country, a reason which he believes held back Nigeria’s economic growth.
Buhari is also scheduled to meet with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior administration officials.