President Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, said he is determined to change the narrative that Nigeria lacks the leadership for sustainable development.

Therefore, he said his administration is committed to upholding democratic principles and pursuing strategic partnerships with established democracies across the globe.

The President said he was determined to ensure adherence to the rule of law and expedite the sustainable provision of good governance, justice, and fairness to all Nigerians.

Tinubu stated these when he received a delegation from the United States Congress led by Senator Cory Booker at the State House in Abuja on Wednesday.

“Nigeria, as the giant of Africa, had suffered leadership elephantiasis years back. I am determined to change that,” he said

Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, revealed details of Wednesday’s talks in a statement titled ‘President Tinubu receives United States congressional delegation, says Nigeria is prepared to expedite sustainable development in collaboration with partners.’

“The President said he is determined to ensure adherence to the rule of law and expedite the sustainable provision of good governance, justice, and fairness to all Nigerians.

“Adhering to the principles of democracy and the rule of law is very important to us. I wonder how democracy will survive if we do not fight for it. I fought for this democracy. I risked my life for it.

“Military truncation of democracy is unacceptable. The power of our citizens is and must remain supreme,” the President said.

According to Tinubu, while democracy must be defended, it must translate into tangibles of quality healthcare, good education, food security, shelter, and overall economic prosperity for the people of Nigeria.

Therefore, he told Senator Booker that Nigeria is a necessary partner for the sustenance of democracy in Africa and beyond, noting that as the continent’s biggest economy and largest democracy, Nigeria is well-positioned to set the best continental example by delivering good governance to its people.

Emphasising the need for the United States to evolve a more prudent and pragmatic partnership with Africa, the president told the U.S. Congressional delegation that the United States should consider upscaling critical development programmes to strengthen ties with the continent.

“It is important for our partners to help strengthen democracy in Africa. Our developmental programmes need serious capital.

“We are not asking for freebies. All we are asking for is understanding. After the Second World War, Europe was impacted. America developed and executed the Marshall Plan to pull them back up.

“Today, Europe is standing firm and tall as a result. What about a Marshall plan for Africa?” he queried.

The President rehashed his argument at the Fifth Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union in Nairobi, Kenya, in July 2023 where he said the forces that plundered Africa in the past and still seek to impede its progress today will not find easy inroads into the continent.

At the time, Tinubu said Africa was now strong and its leaders would no longer remain passive as they worked to harness their vast resources to better their respective countries.

On Wednesday, he told the US Congressional delegation, “How can we be categorised and thrown into IMF’s basket of trickle-down slices?

“We are blessed in Africa, but these are the same resources causing conflicts because of exploitation and a lack of alignment.

“The presence of the resources does not reflect in the living conditions of the people. We must not use yesterday’s methods to address today’s challenges. Nobody wants to risk their life to run away from Africa.”

Therefore, he urged the United States to address the root causes of democratic unrest in Africa through strategic support rather than aid.

He asserted, “America needs to look at the situation in Africa critically. What is happening in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger emanates from a helpless feeling people have that they are not being helped economically.

“They find that their former colonial masters are not letting go and are still seeking to exploit them. We have mineral resources.

“What technology can you bring to help turn that into economic prosperity? Can you put de-risking finance in place to incentivize John Deere to assist us in massively mechanizing our food production processes? There is so much we can do in the advancement of education.”

Tinubu urged the US to “see Africa as a necessary partner for the sustenance of democracy” affirming that, “We are capable and willing to lift our own people out of poverty.”

Speaking earlier, Senator Booker described President Tinubu as a visionary leader who took tough but necessary decisions for the good of Nigerians.

“You are a leader of a particular character. You have the courage to do very difficult things, right at the beginning of your term.

“Something that many American leaders should look to; someone who believes so much in their people that they can make difficult decisions and know that their country is resilient and strong to endure so that it can emerge stronger on the other side,” the US lawmaker said.

Booker noted that Nigeria and the United States are partners bound by shared values of democracy, rule of law and commitment to peace and good governance.

He said, “I share my enthusiasm about deepening the partnership between Nigeria and the United States. We know in America that there is no greater or more important partner for the United States on the African continent than its biggest country, its biggest democracy, and its biggest economy.

“I am excited about the opportunity we have had to learn, to listen, to meet these extraordinary people in your community that share our common values of democracy, entrepreneurship, and commitment to peace and strong growth.

“We know the investments we make in this country in different sectors, and our partnership on security and counter-terrorism is not just for Nigeria’s benefit but for both of our countries’ benefit.”

Booker noted that he can relate with President Tinubu’s reform efforts having served as the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, for years.

“I know what I had to go through to reverse the fortunes of one of America’s most impoverished and troubled megacities. Several Newark Mayors before me fell on corruption charges.

“I had to restore hope and confidence. I had to beg investors to come in and believe in our city. We were persistent and we broke through. Newark is dramatically different today.

“I see so many similarities between the sustainable turnaround I led and the efforts you are making to transform Nigeria for the better. You have a partner in the United States,” he said.

On his part, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, drew the delegates’ attention to a resolution of the U.S. House of Representatives seeking to designate Nigeria as a country of concern over allegations of religious intolerance.

“Appeal to them (the House), Nigeria has a constitution that pays critical attention to the rights of all citizens.

“There is no government that will support anything inimical to the provisions of the constitution,” the Minister said.

Responding, U.S. Congresswoman Sara Jacobs said the broad consensus in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the White House is to not place Nigeria back on the list of countries of concern.