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Trump tags Nigeria’s Buhari “lifeless.” What will he say of Uhuru Kenyatta?

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What appeared to have been kept under wraps, regarding President Donald Trump’s impression of his his April meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, is now unveiled.

Financial Times is reporting that, apparently unimpressed with Buhari’s contributions at the US meeting, Trump had described their discussions as lifeless.

Given the US President’s earlier uncomplimentary remarks about some developing economies during which he described them as “shithole” countries, Uhuru Kenyatta’s August visit has received Financial Times’ review.

See below:

Donald Trump will welcome Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta to the White House on Monday for what will be only the second one-on-one meeting the US president has held with a sub-Saharan African leader since he took office last year.

The first meeting, with Nigeria’s ailing 75-year-old Muhammadu Buhari in April, ended with the US president telling aides he never wanted to meet someone so lifeless again, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Advocates of closer US-Africa ties hope his encounter with the younger, more urbane Mr Kenyatta, 56, will breathe fresh life into a relationship with a region that Washington is seen to have neglected as other countries, notably China, develop ever-closer trade and investment ties with the continent.

Under Emmanuel Macron, France is also trying to reset its relationship with its former colonies in Africa and deepen commercial ties with bigger economies in the Anglo sphere, such as Nigeria and South Africa.

“Trump likes chemistry,” said a person in touch both with senior US administration officials and the Kenya delegation preparing for Monday’s meeting. “Africa has never been high on his radar but if the big guy likes you he’ll find a way to make things work.”

Joshua Meservey, senior policy analyst for Africa at the Heritage Foundation, said: “Presidents Trump and Kenyatta have a pretty warm relationship which can hopefully pave the way for more engagement with Kenya and the rest of Africa.” The Kenyan president, he suspected, might try to “carry the torch” for the whole continent.

After his meeting with Mr Trump, Mr Kenyatta will meet Theresa May, the UK prime minister, in Nairobi next week before flying to Beijing in early September for the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation summit to be presided over by Xi Jinping, China’s president.

“A lot of the influence that America used to wield not too long ago is pretty much diminished,” said Patrick Gathara, a political commentator in Kenya. The increasing interest of other countries in Africa — including Turkey, India and the Gulf States, as well as China — gave African countries more diplomatic options he said.

Washington and Nairobi are expected to sign a series of commercial agreements that could “create hundreds of American and Kenyan jobs”, a White House official told the Financial Times.

Many expect Mr Trump will try to seal a deal over the plan by Bechtel, the US engineering group, to build a $4.5bn four-lane motorway between the port city of Mombasa and Nairobi for which financing has not yet been fully secured.

Aubrey Hruby, co-founder of the Africa Expert Network, said Washington was not focused enough on backing US commercial interests in Africa. “France, China and other countries do direct commercial diplomacy,” she said. “We get too bogged down in conflict of interest,” she said, adding that Washington officials were reluctant to be seen backing one US company over another.

While many in the administration are keen to develop relations with the continent along business lines, in place of a traditional focus on aid and security, Mr Trump’s repeated gaffes have hampered efforts to push the continent higher up the agenda.

The US president appalled leaders on the continent by including African nations among those he allegedly disparaged as “shithole” countries in January. Last year, he mistakenly referred to Namibia as “Nambia” during a public address.

Even last week, Mr Trump waded into a debate over land ownership in South Africa, alleging “the large-scale killing of farmers”. The incidents of such killings have fallen sharply.

Read Also: Zambia’s Finance Minister serving as president: Here is why

“Trump is widely criticised for not having an Africa policy,” said Grant Harris, former Africa director at the National Security Council. “So it’s in his interest to have something from Monday he can present as a win,” he said, adding that the US was considering a reciprocal trade deal with Kenya.

Mr Harris said the onus was also on Mr Kenyatta whose country, like many others in Africa, had borrowed heavily from China, leaving little room to do business with the US.

A White House official said the Trump administration was “progressing” with the development of an Africa strategy, adding that Kenya was one of Washington’s closest security, counter-terrorism and trade partners in Africa.

Two months ago, Tibor Nagy, a former US ambassador to Guinea and Ethiopia, was finally confirmed as the state department’s top Africa diplomat.

Mr Kenyatta’s reception in the Oval Office is a boost to a man who once faced an indictment from the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity over his alleged role in the mass violence that followed the 2007 elections. The charges were ultimately withdrawn in 2014.

“There won’t be any mention about corruption in Kenya or human rights,” said Mr Gathara, who said he was sceptical about the Kenyan president’s recent “war on corruption”. Under Mr Trump, he said, the US was now also perceived to have “lax standards”, reducing its authority to pressure anyone else.

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What next as Nigeria’s Supreme Court knocks out President Buhari’s suit challenging electoral act?

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Nigeria’s highest court, the Supreme Court on Friday knocked out a suit filed by President Muhammad Buhari and his attorney-General, Abubakar Malami, to challenge the controversial section 84(12) of the new assented Electoral Act.

The ruling, which was unanimously struck out the suit on the ground of being an abuse of court process, was delivered by a bench led by Musa Dattijo-Muhammad.

Other members of the bench who consented to the lead judgement are Dattijo-Muhammad, John Okoro, Amina Augie, Lawal Garba and Ibrahim Saulawa.

Aokmaye Agim, who delivered the lead judgement, held that Mr Buhari, having earlier assented to section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022, cannot turn around to approach the court to strike it down.

Mr Agim said, “This suit cannot be entertained by this court under section 1(1) (a) of the Additional Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court Act. “

“There is no provision in the constitution that vests the president the power to challenge the constitutionality or desirability of a legislation after he has assented or denied his assent. In this case, the president gave his assent,” Mr Agim ruled.

The Nigerian President in March signed the reworked Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022 after many years of back and forth. The new law among other provisions empowers the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deploy technological solutions for elections in the country.

President Buhari in a letter to the National Assembly later asked the federal lawmakers to amend the Act, by deleting Section 84 (12), which, according to him, constitutes a “defect” that is in conflict with extant Constitutional provisions.

The clause reads, “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the Convention or Congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”

The Assembly however rejected President Buhari’s request to amend the provision.

Justice Agim added that “The president has no power to request or compel the national assembly to amend any part of the Act of the National Assembly in which he has participated in its making.”

The effect of the new law has seen a number president Buhari’s appointees resign particularly during the height of the ruling party, the All-Progressive Congress primary elections. Notably amongst them is the former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi  who had to resign to pursue his presidential ambition.

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Ex-Tunisian PM Jebali arrested on allegations of money laundering

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Former Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, who is also senior member of the opposition Ennahdha Party, was on Friday, arrested by the police on allegations of money laundering, according to his lawyer, Mokhtar Jemai said in a statement.

The statement said police in the city of Sousse also seized the phones of Jebali and his wife, before taking him to an unknown location.

The arrest of Jebali has raised further concerns within the ranks of the opposition over the human rights situation in Tunisia since President Kais Saied took unpopular actions including dissolving the parliament last July, suspending the electoral commission, dissolved the Supreme Juducial Council and sacked 57 judges this month, which his opponents have called a coup meant to entrench a one-man rule in the country.

Jebali’s defence team have said they have been able to meet with him at the detention centre where he is being held.

“Jebali told us he will not answer the investigators’ questions and he entered into a hunger strike as the issue has a political motivation and nothing to do with money laundering,” Jemai said.

Jebali who was Tunisian Prime Minister in 2012 but resigned in 2013 following a political crisis, is not the first opposition figure to be arrested in what has been seen as a clampdown on opposition leaders by President Saied.

Earlier this year, Noureddine Bhiri, the vice president of Ennahdha was arrested and detained for more than two months before he was released without any charges being brought.

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