Nigeria is a diverse country with a large and assertive civil society, a rich culture and huge potential. It is a country with an almost boundless capacity for economic growth. And the United States wants Nigeria to succeed. That is why the United States and Nigeria just re-launched the U.S.-Nigeria Bi-National Commission, with a high-level strategic dialogue in Washington designed to expand mutual cooperation across a broad range of shared interests.
The United States, said Secretary of State John Kerry at the Commission’s most recent meeting in late March, is encouraged that under new President, Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria has made a commitment to diversify its economy. Secretary Kerry then announced that this year, U.S. aid to Nigeria will top $600 million.
A significant portion of this money will go toward halting “the misery that is spread by HIV/AIDS, by malaria, and by TB.”
More funding will go toward strengthening Nigeria’s energy sector through President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative, and the Feed the Future program will help improve agricultural efficiency and raise rural incomes.
Together, said Secretary of State Kerry, we will work to address humanitarian and development needs “especially in the country’s north, where the lack of opportunity has been holding people back, and where the terrorist organization, Boko Haram, has murdered thousands and disrupted the lives of millions.”
Thus, the United States will support Nigeria’s efforts to once and for all defeat Boko Haram, and to eliminate the conditions that have seen the genesis of this terrorist group, and that aid its recruitment and operations. These include effective governance, the creation of good jobs and the elimination of corruption.
“Our purpose,” said Secretary of State Kerry, “is to map out the next steps for cooperation in all of those areas where we need it.
“This doesn’t transform things overnight. But,” he said, “it moves us steadily forward, it creates momentum in the right direction, and that is good for Nigeria, it’s good for the United States, and frankly, if we can get this right that will really make a difference to the world.”