Independence Day: US will continue to stand by Nigeria despite challenges, says envoy

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United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, has pledged that the Joe Biden administration will continue to stand by Nigeria in spite of the many economic and security challenges confronting the West African nation.

The American envoy stated this in an OP-ED on Thursday titled, ‘Reflections on 61 years of U.S. – Nigerian Engagement’.

Leonard said the Mission in Nigeria “recognize that security and economic concerns weigh on the minds of all Nigerians”, adding that it has been working in solidarity with the Nigerian government to address the challenges together.

She wrote, “We also recognize that security and economic concerns weigh on the minds of all Nigerians. We work in solidarity with the Nigerian government to address those challenges together. Diplomacy, development, health, and defense have long been pillars that provide the foundation for promoting and protecting U.S. national security interests abroad.

“Our bilateral relationship is strong and based on such mutual interests. We share the Nigerian government’s recognition that, indeed, military aid will not be the exclusive tool to end insecurity in the country. A “whole of government” approach is required to protect citizens and stabilize the country. And indeed, all Nigerians have a role to play in improving security.

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“We have a long-standing partnership with the Nigerian military and the Nigerian police that consists of advising, training, exercises, education, and military systems and equipment, all of which are encompassed in the historic A-29 Super Tucano sale. These engagements emphasize the skills and processes that are critical to shaping effective militaries.

“The United States supports Nigeria’s economic growth and its mutually beneficial trade with the U.S. through both private sector engagement and government-supported initiatives – such as the West Africa Trade and Investment Hub, Prosper Africa, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and the Foreign Commercial Service. The U.S. is proud to be the largest humanitarian donor in Nigeria, providing $1.45 billion since 2015, and supporting an estimated two million conflict-affected households in the north. The U.S. is looking forward to expanding on these economic relationships in the future.”

Leonard further said that the Mission is focused on strengthening democracy in Nigeria as the nation clocks 61 years, interrupted with years of military despotism and merciless dictators.

“We commend Nigeria on its efforts to encourage dialogue and transparency at all levels of governance and continue to partner with Nigeria on efforts to improve its governing capacity. We are focused on strengthening Nigeria’s democratic processes and institutions and encouraging freedom of information, including efforts to enforce accountability through credible and transparent elections,” she said.

“Nigeria’s potential is enormous. With Nigeria’s vibrant and innovative youth, we know that the best is yet to come for this great nation. As proud partners, we will continue to stand by Nigeria and work towards a more inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Nigeria,” the ambassador concluded.