United States President Barack Obama met Monday at the White House with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office less than two months ago following an election Obama called "historic." On Monday, Obama lauded Buhari's commitment to democracy and calm as he welcomed the African politician in the Oval Office, especially as it applied to the growing terrorism group Boko Haram, according to pool reports.
"President Buhari comes into office with a reputation for integrity and a very clear agenda, and that is to make sure that he is bringing safety and security and peace to his country," Obama said. "He’s very concerned about the spread of Boko Haram and the violence that’s taken place there, and the atrocities that they’ve carried out, and has a very clear agenda in defeating Boko Haram and extremists of all sorts inside of his country. And he has a very clear agenda with respect to rooting out the corruption that too often has held back the economic growth and prosperity of his country."
Buhari's visit, billed as a chance to "underscore the United States’ longstanding friendship with Nigeria," was seen as a departure from previous rocky relations between the nations. Earlier this year, American officials told the New York Times they didn't trust Nigeria's military to protect citizens or keep information safe from Boko Haram, which has killed about 15,000 people. The U.S. prevented Nigeria from buying Cobra helicopters from Israel last summer, and in December Nigeria canceled the U.S.-led training of an army battalion.
But that was under President Goodluck Jonathan, who lost in the country's first democratic election this past April. Buhari took over, and Obama invited him to the White House. Buhari was also expected to meet with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, the Associated Press reported. They'll talk about not only Boko Haram but also political corruption, public health issues and climate change. Obama said he wants to help Buhari succeed.
"We are extremely happy that the United States had made it absolutely clear before the election that they are prepared to help Nigeria in this aspect. And this is why I am here, and I am very grateful for the invitation Mr. President extended to me," Buhari said Monday.