By Prudence Arobani
New York – The strategic partnership between Nigeria and the U.S. is deep, strong and mutually beneficial, the U.S. Government has said.
The U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Thomas Shannon, Jr., stated this at a symposium on Nigeria at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C.
Shannon stressed the need for continued conversation in the context of the strategic partnership between the two countries, describing Nigeria as one of U.S. most important partners in Africa.
The U.S. envoy said: “The U.S.-Nigeria partnership is rooted in the deep connections between our people.
“It is also rooted in our shared interests in promoting mutually beneficial trade and investment, combating the surge of terrorism, and responding to Nigeria’s development and governance challenges.
“These priorities are being addressed every day through our robust bilateral partnership”.
He said President Donald Trump underscored during his working lunch with African leaders, which President Muhammadu Buhari attended, that we could not have economic prosperity without peace, and we could not have sustained peace without good governance.
“On the economic front, Nigeria stands apart. It is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economy, and the United States’ second largest bilateral trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Nigeria’s vibrant and dynamic economy, full of innovation and entrepreneurship, has driven its economic growth.
“According to Global Entrepreneurship Watch, 35 per cent of Nigerians are involved in some sort of entrepreneurial activity.
“However, Nigeria could unleash its potential further by pursuing growth through market-based policies, not state-centred ones.
“A market-based approach that minimises barriers between buyers and sellers will encourage additional investment and trade, and lighten the regulatory load on its budding entrepreneurs and investors.”
According to him, a related issue to increased economic growth and investment that should remain front and centre is Nigeria’s youth bulge.
“Nigeria is expected to become the third most-populous country in the world by 2050. It will be essential that we consider the voice of Nigeria’s youth today to ensure their leadership and commitment tomorrow.
“We support this engagement through the Young African Leaders Initiative, and through the more than 10,000 Nigerian students at institutions of higher learning in the U.S.
“On the political front, Nigeria is a recognised leader across the continent. Within West Africa, we are grateful for Nigeria’s leadership in the ECOWAS, and particularly during the political transition in The Gambia in December 2016.
He also expressed U.S. gratitude to Nigeria for its robust peacekeeping presence on the continent from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Mali.
“Nigeria’s peaceful, transparent elections in March 2015 showed the rest of Africa and the world that a complex, diverse society could conduct peaceful democratic transitions of leadership.
“Many of you here today played an important role during that period.
”As the country heads into state elections and the 2019 national elections, the United States is ready and willing to offer our technical assistance, as we have in the past,” Shannon said. (NAN)