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US president, Biden snubs Buhari in first call to African leaders

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The President of the United States of America, Joe Biden made his first call to African leaders last week but snubbed the continent’s most populous nation, Nigeria.

Biden reached out to Africa on Thursday, 25 February, after more than a month in office and a flurry of phone calls to American allies around the world.

He spoke to President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, while Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to President Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday.

Biden had earlier spoken to President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa in November 2020, days after his election.

The obvious sidestepping of Nigeria, long seen as an influential regional leader, has not gone unnoticed.

Experts say the omission reflects not only America’s diplomatic priorities but Nigeria’s estimation at a time the continent’s largest democracy faces staggering domestic problems.

“It’s an indication that the United States government doesn’t think too much about our performance as a country right now. It’s as simple as that,” said Jide Osuntokun, professor of History and International Relations at the Osun state-based Redeemer University.

“Many governments outside Nigeria are worried about the future of our country. So it’s an indication that you have to do something or the world will pass you by.”

Many global leaders traditionally view engagements with their American counterparts, either through telephone calls or visits, as a gauge of their countries’ strategic interests with respect to the foreign policies of the world’s most powerful nation. They also pay attention to the timing of those interactions.

Former President Barack Obama called 22 world leaders in four days after his election in 2008, while President Donald Trump called 20 within seven days of his election in 2016, according to CNN data.

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