Recognizing Nigeria as one of the most strategically important nations in sub-Saharan Africa, the United States of America today underlined its commitment to strengthen its partnership with Nigeria.
On his remarks at U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission “A Rising Partnership,” Deputy Secretary William J. Burns said the United States approaches its partnership from the fundamental premise that Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, home to its largest Muslim population, and its largest contributor of peacekeepers.
He says one out of every four Africans is Nigerian and it is also US largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, with $35 billion in annual trade between our countries.
A leader in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Nigeria has led peacemaking efforts from Liberia to Cote d’Ivoire to Guinea-Bissau, he noted
On the UN Security Council, Nigeria has lent its voice to causes of conscience in Libya, Syria, and around the world, Mr. Burns cited.
“We are invested in your success because we recognize Nigeria as a strategic center of gravity in its own right.” -Mr. Burns
Mr. Burns said the US recognizes a broader truth: across the continent, communities are struggling to find productive paths for growing youth populations; to defeat corruption; to turn a corner in improving governance, infrastructure and public health; to hold together different faiths and regions and to take on the drivers of extremism.
Mr. Burns stresses that Nigeria’s challenges are Africa’s challenges.
“And if we can help Nigeria chart a secure, prosperous and democratic course, then Nigeria’s successes can be Africa’s as well – successes we can measure in improved lives, livelihoods, and leadership in the region.” -Mr. Burns
He says the United States is proud to have supported the efforts of the Nigerian government and the Independent National Electoral Commission through a $31.3 million election assistance program in collaboration with the UK.
Mr. Burns says energy and investment is also critical to Nigeria’s economic present and future.
“Our economic ties are strong.” -Mr. Burns
The United States accounts for some $5.4 billion in foreign direct investment in Nigeria annually, and Nigeria is the fifth largest foreign supplier of oil to the United States, he noted.
Nigeria has taken significant steps on its “roadmap” to rehabilitate its energy infrastructure, Mr. Burns noted.
“Now we must work together to sustain progress and match it with increased international investment in Nigeria’s energy sector.” -Mr. Burns
US and Nigeris is working on how they can advance these reform efforts that will increase private investment in power sector infrastructure, promote the use of clean energy sources and help Nigeria translate its tremendous natural riches into lasting and widespread prosperity for all of its people.
In addition, nearly seventy percent of Nigeria’s population is engaged in agriculture, which why the United States asserts that food and agriculture is also so important.
The United States is working to strengthen Nigeria’s agricultural sector through encouraging policy reforms, technology transfer, and strong private sector involvement.
“We are committed to help Nigeria meet its ambitious plans to invest in and improve its ability to feed its people and become a major agricultural exporter.” -Mr. Burns
In addition, Mr. Burns stresses the United States is ready to explore a potential partnership with the Nigerian army to build its civil affairs capacity which, in turn, will help Nigeria build trust between citizens and the security services charged with protecting them.
The United States is committed to helping Nigeria develop a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy – one that includes citizen engagement and dialogue – alongside more traditional security measures.
The United States is determined to help Nigeria translate its comprehensive strategy into concrete action, Mr. Burns underscored.
“We are also committed to help Nigeria coordinate its security responses through an intelligence fusion center.” -Mr. Burns
One year after the Nigerians succesfully cast their ballots, the United States underlined that Nigeria remains a giant in Africa in terms of economy and is optimistic about its long term future.
At about 160 million people, Nigeria is home to over twenty percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population.
Nigeria also is the largest oil producing state in Africa, it is the fifth largest supplier of crude oil to the United States, and the tenth largest global producer.
It is home to the sixth largest Muslim population in the world, and it’s by far the largest country in the world with approximately equal numbers of Christians and Muslims.
In the United Nations, Nigeria is the fifth largest peacekeeping contributing country in the world.
Nigeria is a dominant economic and financial force across West Africa as well.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton inaugurated the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission in 2010, providing the two countries with a high-level vehicle to work together on the most criticial issues we face.
The US government has supported Nigeria’s political and economic reforms and has tried to be a useful partner as it addresses its social, economic, and security challenges.
The United States commends the Nigerian Government also for taken a positive step in trying to address its long standing problem of corruption.
In January this year, a spiralling violence has escalated in Nigeria as Boko Haram group unleashed series of recent attacks.
Boko Haram is a local terrorist group professing allegiance to Al Qaeda. Boko Haram militants attacked several churches on Christmas Day, killing dozens of worshippers. The bombings occurred in Madala, on the outskirts of Abuja, the Nigerian capital, and in the north-eastern city of Jos.
Boko Haram, which aims to install strict Shariah, or Islamic, law across Nigeria, has vowed to keep killing Christians in the multiethnic country.