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A Strong Nigeria, Foundation For Strong Africa – US Envoy

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The United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Tibor P Nagy, has tied the survival of Africa to the most populous nation in the continent, saying a strong Nigeria is the foundation for a strong African continent.

This, he said, explains why the US government is passionate about seeing Nigeria play a larger role in the continent with her experience in regional peacekeeping and recent peaceful democratic transitions.

The US envoy spoke during a public lecture entitled, “US-African Relations: The Enduring Partnership between the United States and Nigeria”, at Baze University, Abuja.

Ambassador Nagy who was appointed US assistant secretary of state for African Affairs by US President, Donald Trump, to take charge of America’s foreign policies on Africa is on his first trip to the continent.

He chose Baze University to unveil the United States policies for Nigeria while on the trip, which he said had been a phenomenal opportunity for him to highlight four key US policy priorities.

Explaining why Africa’s survival depends on Nigeria, he said, “As Nigeria’s population becomes the third-largest in the world by 2050, our partnership will only deepen. I believe that a strong Nigeria is the foundation for a strong continent.

“As I focus my attention on increasing trade with and U.S. investment on the continent, Nigeria will be at the center of this effort.  Nigeria is the United States’ second-largest trading partner in Africa, with over $9 billion in two-way goods trade in 2017.  Hundreds of American companies already operate in Nigeria, and in 2017, U.S. investment stood at $5.8 billion.

“Recently, Nigeria has taken steps to develop more predictable economic policies and a more transparent justice system.  However, greater international investment will only come with continued reforms”.

Nagy said it is critical that US and Africa strengthen their partnership to advance peace and security across the continent.

He pointed out that no matter how much international support Nigeria receives, it is only the Nigerian people that can determine lasting solutions and a path forward toward peace and stability.

He said the US government and other partners “might provide the seeds, but the Nigerian people must plant them, water them, cultivate them and harvest them”.

Nagy disclosed that America does this through its security and development partnerships with African governments as well as supporting regional mechanisms like ECOWAS.

Maintaining that the US government relies on Nigeria to achieve peace and stability in Africa, he said, “We want to see Nigeria play a larger role in the region — to use its decades of experience in regional peacekeeping and the recent trend of peaceful democratic transitions to influence the broader region toward a similar path.

“I am here today to reinforce that America has an unwavering commitment to Africa.  Our relationship has evolved over decades to one of cooperation, mutual respect, and transparency.

“Perhaps nowhere is the strength and breadth of the U.S.-African partnership more evident than here in Nigeria.  Nigeria has Africa’s largest population and economy.  It is a diverse and vibrant democracy on the world’s fastest growing continent”.

The US envoy however regretted that the activities of the Boko Haram sect had spelt disaster for more than two million displaced people across the Northeast where he said violence has “disrupted the education – and the futures – of an entire generation there”.

Assuring that the United States is Nigeria’s partner in the fight against terrorism, he said US is committed to helping the Nigerian people provide their own security, adding that important progress has been made so far.

He continued: “We are also the largest humanitarian donor to those impacted by violence.  But, simply restoring the Northeast to what it was before Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa’s destruction will not address the challenges at hand.

“The Nigerian government, with civic leaders, communities and businesses must work together to create a durable environment to support lasting peace and development. That work also includes transparent and credible investigations of human rights violations and mechanisms to hold accountable those found guilty of such crimes.

“The greatest sign of success will be when the displaced are able to return home – safely, voluntarily, and with access to needed services.   Through USAID, we are helping those affected by violence in the Northeast to rebuild their lives. And, we are encouraged by Nigeria’s efforts to establish a Northeast Development Commission.

“We also recognize the Nigerian Government’s commitment to prevent the stoking of religious conflict and applaud Nigeria’s religious communities for discussing their issues peacefully and openly.

“To help, the United States is working to improve law enforcement and judicial systems; support conflict prevention and mitigation programs; working with your universities to modernize farming and herding practices; and supporting Nigerian civil society leaders to find long-term solutions to conflict”.

On education, Ambassador Nagy said the US government had insisted time and again that investing in education is the best way to invest in the future.

“It (education) is a down payment for the community, the nation, and ultimately, the world.  The United States invests a large portion of our roughly $500 million a year in bilateral foreign assistance to help Nigerians build human capital, fight poverty, and promote health. But an educated population is only possible if children can attend school”, he noted.

On trade and investment, the US envoy said the United States promotes stronger trade and business ties between Africa and America.

To achieve this, he said African governments need to increase transparency and fairness in their respective commercial environments to attract more business.

He added: “Investors need a level playing field, predictable policies, and a dispute resolution process that follows the rule of law — not who pays the highest bribe. America remains the world leader in international brands and American technology and expertise is second to none.

“And American companies are eager to invest in Africa and they will bring technology, know-how and, above all, the desire to hire, train, and advance Africans into positions of responsibility.  Sadly, as we all know, some other countries have not been willing to do this”.



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