John Kerry, US secretary of states, says his country will invest at least $600 million in Nigeria in 2016.
Speaking in Washington during the opening session of the US-Nigeria bi-national commission meeting, Kerry reiterated the commitment of his country to Nigeria’s growth.
He said his country had been encouraged by President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to an economy that is more diversified, and it will therefore do its best in ensuring that the current administration succeeds.
“We want Nigeria to succeed. And I don’t say that with any element of patronising or arrogant or any kind of view other than the fact that we know there are challenges,” he said.
“Nigeria is an extraordinary country. It has huge potential, a very rich culture. And it is finding very vibrant expression in every branch of the arts. And like the United States, it is a diverse country with a very large and assertive civil society; and like America, Nigeria is looked to for leadership in confronting some of the starkest challenges of our times.
“Now, Nigeria’s future is in Nigerians’ hands. We respect that. The United States is here to help to meet your needs, to listen to you carefully, to understand what it is that you believe is necessary, and to work with you where we can to implement. Our development assistance this year will top $600 million, and we are working closely with your leaders – the leaders of your health ministry – to halt the misery that is spread by HIV/AIDS, by malaria, and by TB.
“Our Power Africa Initiative is aimed at strengthening the energy sector, where shortage in electricity has frustrated the population and impeded growth. And our long-term food security programme, feed the future, is helping to create more efficient agriculture and to raise rural incomes in doing that.
“Our Young African Leaders Programme, in which many Nigerians participate, is preparing the next generation to take the reins of responsibility…. and in education, we are working together to try to fight illiteracy, especially in the country’s north, where the lack of opportunity has been holding people back, and where the terrorist organisation, Boko Haram, has murdered thousands and disrupted the lives of millions.”
Responding Geoffrey Onyema, minister of foreign affairs, who led the Nigerian delegation, thanked his host for the warm reception, and expressed Nigeria’s indebtedness to the US for the role it had been playing in its stability.
“We cannot underestimate the impact that your visit and the support of your country has had in shaping the future for Nigeria,” he said.
“And of course, we’ve had respect for the United States for a very long time. Your system of government is one that we’ve adopted. We had a Westminster model once upon a time, but we threw that aside and embraced the United States model – an expensive model it is too, but we’re struggling as best we can.
“We share the same values and we respect very much what this great country has achieved, and this country has really become a model for all countries in the world. And we aspire to going some ways to emulating this model.”