A Few Thoughts on Opportunities in Nigeria

Posted by William J. Burns
May 5, 2010
People Work on Farm in Nigeria

About the Author: William J. Burns serves as Under Secretary for Political Affairs.

I only had a few hours in Nigeria on April 24, but my visit gave me the chance to meet with Acting President Goodluck Jonathan and the new Minister for Foreign Affairs Ajumogobia, both of whom recently returned from the Nuclear Security Summit. The discussions were a great example of why a strong, open relationship -- characterized by mutual respect, honesty, and a willingness to listen and sometimes disagree -- is so crucial today.

Nigeria has the largest population in all of Africa, contributes the greatest amount of peacekeepers for UN peacekeeping operations globally, is Africa's largest producer of oil, and works to bolster international peace and security from its seat on the United Nations Security Council. We have an array of new opportunities for partnership through the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission that Secretary Clinton recently launched with Nigeria's Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed.

For example, there is much that we can do together to help secure the global energy supply, including through civilian nuclear energy. I was encouraged by news that the Nigerian government plans to partner with firms in the United States to improve electricity production. We'll also work to provide Nigerian farmers the agricultural tools to lift rural families out of poverty. Nigeria's prosperity is going to depend on good governance and transparency, and the Binational Commission will focus on electoral reform and preparations for elections in 2011. There is also great promise for regional cooperation on security and counterterrorism, as shown by some of the steps we've taken to strengthen air security through provision of scanners to the Nigerian Airports Authority.

We have a lot more work to do, but I'm optimistic about the tremendous potential of this growing relationship.

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Texas, USA
June 17, 2010

Sal G. in Texas writes:

I have been reading some recent NY Times articles about the oil spills in the Nigeria Delta. The articles really saddened me that this has happened in Nigeria, and the spills get little attention.


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