Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, has fired Rex Tillerson, his Secretary of State, barely 24 hours after the latter paid a one-day working visit to Nigeria.
Tillerson met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja on Monday.
Trump announced via his Twitter handle on Wednesday that Mike Pompeo, former Director with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), would take over from Tillerson, while Gina Haspel replaces Pompeo as CIA Director.
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
CNN quoted Sarah Sanders, White House Press Secretary, as saying that Trump asked Tillerson to “step aside”.
“The President thought it was the right time for the transition with the upcoming North Korea talks and various trade negotiations,” a senior White House official was also quoted as saying.
“Trump’s anger at Tillerson after it leaked that his secretary of state called him “a moron” never subsided, and many in the White House saw their differences as irreconcilable,” the report added.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Tuesday, Trump said his differences with Tillerson came down to personal “chemistry”.
“We got along actually quite well, but we disagreed on things,” Trump said. “When you look at the Iran deal, I think it’s terrible. I guess he thought it was OK. I wanted to either break it or do something and he felt a little bit differently, so we were not really thinking the same.”
Meanwhile a statement from Tillerson’s office on Tuesday said that “the secretary has not spoken with the President and is unaware of the reasons for his sack”. In fact, the statement added that Tillerson learned of his sack via Trump’s tweet.
Tillerson’s departure comes just as the Trump administration embarks on its most difficult and ambitious foreign policy goal to date — engaging the nuclear armed North Korean regime. Trump is set to meet leader Kim Jong Un by the end of May.
Some Nigerians took to Twitter to react to the development.
Rex Tillerson’s village people are wicked. He has been fired just after leaving Nigeria. He missed destiny by a day. We would have adopted him, given him a nameless Asiwaju or Otunba kinda political portfolio in Abuja, and worshipped him with zero expectations of accountability.
— Pius Adesanmi (@pius_adesanmi) March 13, 2018
— SeunOkin Channels tv (@seunokin) March 13, 2018
I am sure Tillerson knew this was coming even as he met with Buhari yesterday. Especially with the “he is coming” “he is not coming” reports that happened both in Kenya and Nigeria.
— JJ. Omojuwa (@Omojuwa) March 13, 2018
So Rex Tillerson Visited Nigeria Yesterday and He was sacked today. 😎 pic.twitter.com/rz2mJpLzO3
— Faleye Adedolapo🇳🇬🌍🌎 (@MrKonkrete) March 13, 2018