Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham writes for The Hill on the significance of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s meeting with President Obama:
Today’s White House meeting between President Obama and new Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is more than a courtesy call. Rather, it is an opportunity to refresh a relationship that has the potential to be America’s most important strategic partnership on an African continent that the administration itself has repeatedly described as “more important than ever to the security and prosperity of the international community, and to the United States in particular.”
The timing of the visit is no accident, coming as it does on the eve of Obama’s third foray as president to sub-Saharan Africa, a voyage that will take him to his father’s country of birth, Kenya — now one of Africa’s burgeoning economies — where he will address the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, as well as to Ethiopia, a key US ally in the region and headquarters of the African Union. But before embarking on this trip, it is important that the president directly engage with Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, the continent’s largest economy, and home to both its largest Muslim community as well as its largest Christian community. Despite its geopolitical and economic significance, the country’s ties with the United States went through something of a rough patch during the tail end of former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure.