Why U.S. is supporting Nigeria’s diversification, anti-corruption agenda

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (left) and United States Secretary of State John Kerry at the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, Washington Convention Centre, Washington, DC…yesterday PHOTO: SAUL LOEB /AFP

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (left) and United States Secretary of State John Kerry at the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, Washington Convention Centre, Washington, DC…yesterday PHOTO: SAUL LOEB /AFP

The United States (U.S) government has hinged its support for the Federal Government’s diversification and anti-corruption agenda on the need to aid the nation’s sustainable growth approach in order to strengthen its economy and provide leadership direction for other African countries.

According to the U.S., while it is very encouraged by President Buhari’s commitment to an economy that is more diversified, less dependent on a single commodity for export earnings, Nigeria’s future is in Nigerians’ hands and that means the country needs to develop sustainability.

Besides, U.S. Secretary of States, John Kerry, added that his country will invest at least $600 million in Nigeria in 2016.
Speaking in Washington during the opening session of the US-Nigeria bi-national commission meeting, Kerry reiterated the commitment of his country to Nigeria’s growth.

“We want Nigeria to succeed. And I don’t say that with any element of patronising or arrogant or any kind of view other than the fact that we know there are challenges,” he said.

“Nigeria is an extraordinary country. It has huge potential, a very rich culture. And it is finding very vibrant expression in every branch of the arts. And like the United States, it is a diverse country with a very large and assertive civil society; and like America, Nigeria is looked to for leadership in confronting some of the starkest challenges of our times.

“Now, Nigeria’s future is in Nigerians’ hands. We respect that. The United States is here to help to meet your needs, to listen to you carefully, to understand what it is that you believe is necessary, and to work with you where we can to implement. Our development assistance this year will top $600 million, and we are working closely with your leaders – the leaders of your health ministry – to halt the misery that is spread by HIV/AIDS, by malaria, and by TB”.

On the issue of corruption, Kerry said both President Buhari and President Obama identified one of the largest and most stubborn obstacles to economic growth to include the persistence of corruption.

“To fight it, the United States strongly supports the efforts of institutions like Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to prosecute corruption cases. And we back the role of civil society and of the media in exposing corruption and in advocating for greater transparency.

“Our Power Africa Initiative is aimed at strengthening the energy sector, where shortage in electricity has frustrated the population and impeded growth. And our long-term food security programme, feed the future, is helping to create more efficient agriculture and to raise rural incomes in doing that.

“Our Young African Leaders Programme, in which many Nigerians participate, is preparing the next generation to take the reins of responsibility…. and in education, we are working together to try to fight illiteracy, especially in the country’s north, where the lack of opportunity has been holding people back, and where the terrorist organisation, Boko Haram, has murdered thousands and disrupted the lives of millions.”

On his part, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, who led the Nigerian delegation, expressed Nigeria’s indebtedness to the U.S. for the role it had been playing in its stability.

“We cannot underestimate the impact that your visit and the support of your country has had in shaping the future for Nigeria,” he said.

“And of course, we’ve had respect for the United States for a very long time. Your system of government is one that we’ve adopted. We had a Westminster model once upon a time, but we threw that aside and embraced the United States model – an expensive model it is too, but we’re struggling as best we can.

“We share the same values and we respect very much what this great country has achieved, and this country has really become a model for all countries in the world. And we aspire to going some ways to emulating this model.”

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