At approximately 182 million people, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. Since the median age is just 18, that population is expected to relatively soon reach 400 million. Nigeria is also Africa’s second biggest economy, with a vibrant, emerging entrepreneurial class that is the country’s economic future. Thus, Nigeria carries a great deal of regional influence.
The 2015 election of Muhammadu Buhari as President was a milestone for Nigeria and its neighbors, said Deputy Director of the Office of West African Affairs Nathan Holt during a recent teleconference.
“President Buhari’s electoral platform was that he wanted to fight insecurity, particularly the depredations of Boko Haram and other forces in the northeast. He wanted to grow the Nigerian economy, create jobs for its growing population, and he wanted to fight corruption.
“Those are areas of focus that very much are consistent with U.S. interests in Nigeria. We too want to partner with Nigeria and its neighbors to fight terrorism. We too support private-sector-led economic growth. And we are very much in favor of President Buhari’s campaign against corruption”, he said.
The United States supports Nigeria in its fight against Boko Haram and ISIS West Africa. This includes intelligence sharing, training, advice on strategic communications, and various services to support victims of Boko Haram, said Deputy Director Holt.
But we also provide humanitarian assistance to Nigeria. Over the past two years, we have provided nearly half a billion dollars’ worth of assistance to the people of North Eastern Nigeria, as well as to their Lake Chad basin neighbors, all of whom are facing near famine conditions. “We’re working as hard as we can and as fast as we can to deliver food assistance and other support to those people,” said Deputy Director Holt.
“At the end of the day, I think we and our partners all recognize there’s no purely military solution. At the end of the day, the hopes and aspirations of the people need to be met; education and water and basic governance needs to be provided in areas where it has not been provided before. And it’s a joint effort. There are no easy solutions, but we’re in this for the long haul.”