Nigeria’s Acting President Goodluck Jonathan travels to Washington this weekend to meet US President Barack Obama on his first foreign trip as leader of Africa’s most populous country.
The visit comes as Washington becomes more outspoken about its concerns over the political uncertainty plaguing the OPEC member ahead of its presidential elections next year.
“Jonathan this Saturday will be making his first official trip outside the country since he assumed executive powers,” said presidency spokesperson Ima Niboro, adding that the Nigerian leader would return home next Thursday.
A presidency source said the two leaders would focus their discussions on ways to prevent global terrorism, four months after a Nigerian citizen tried to blow up a US passenger jet as it neared Detroit.
Separately, US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will be meet top Nigerian government officials in the capital Abuja next week to discuss aviation security.
Nigeria has started to install body scanners at its international airports after requests from the United States following the Detroit incident.
The United States is by far Nigeria’s largest trade partner, accounting for nearly 45 % of the West African country’s exports, mainly crude oil, according to the IMF.
Washington was the first major foreign power to publicly congratulate Jonathan after he assumed executive powers in February from ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua, who remains too sick to govern.
The United States said it was encouraged that Jonathan would move on electoral reforms, anti-corruption measures and peace efforts in the restive Niger Delta, where Africa’s biggest energy industry is based.
A senior US official said earlier this week that Nigeria’s elections chief, Maurice Iwu, should be replaced if the country wants to hold credible national polls.
Pic: US President- Barack Obama