UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT TO JONATHAN: Corruption Has Undermined The Image of Nigeria

Below, is the statement the United States Government released via the website of the United States Department of State Bureau of International Information Programs.

“U.S.-Nigeria Strategic Partnership Faces Multiple Challenges

By Phillip Kurata

Washington — The United States views its relationship with Nigeria as one of its two most important in sub-Saharan Africa and is offering its assistance to help Nigeria deal with “serious political, security and economic challenges,” according to a senior U.S. official.
“It ranks right up there with South Africa in terms of … the importance of its relationship to the United States,” said the official, who traveled with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Africa in early August but was not speaking for attribution.
Not only is Nigeria Africa’s most populous country, but it also has the largest economy in West Africa, dominating trade up and down the western coast of the continent with its telephone services and banking networks, the official said.
Nigeria is one of the top 10 oil-producing countries in the world, the fifth-largest supplier of crude oil to the United States and the largest U.S. trading partner in Africa, the official said. In diplomatic affairs, Nigeria serves as the headquarters of the 16-member Economic Community of West African States, and has led every major peacekeeping operation in West Africa for the past two decades.
“Across the board, this country is a significant player, politically and economically, regionally and globally,” the official said. “Despite its importance, Nigeria has very serious political, security and economic challenges,” and the United States is willing to help Nigeria meet them, the official said.
In economic matters, Nigeria has a long history of corruption, which, the official said, drains money away from much-needed development projects. The official said Clinton addressed that issue head-on when she met Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja August 9.
“Corruption, quite honestly, has undermined the image of the country,” the official said. “It has diverted much-needed revenue and funds away from infrastructure, social, and education and health projects into the pockets of separate individuals.”
The United States encourages the new chairman of the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission “to move forward identifying individuals and organizations engaged in corruption, prosecuting them and bringing them to justice,” the official said.
The United States also urges Nigerian lawmakers, who are in the process of drafting a new bill for the petroleum sector, to include incentives to attract investment from foreign oil companies, the official said.
“If a bill comes out which appears to undermine the interests of companies, they won’t invest, and we think it’s important for new investment to go into the Nigerian petroleum industry,” the official said.
With regard to political and security issues, Nigeria needs a comprehensive strategy involving security measures and a social and economic development plan to deal with the militant Islamic group Boko Haram in the northern portion of the country, the official said.
The U.S. government urges Nigeria’s military and police agencies “not to engage in human rights abuses or human rights excesses,” the official said. “We will encourage them not to use excessive force and to look at this as an intelligence, police and law enforcement operation designed to catch perpetrators and bring them to justice before courts of law,” the official said.
When Clinton visited Nigeria, she offered U.S. assistance to help Nigeria build an “intelligence fusion cell” to integrate information from various intelligence services to more effectively track individuals engaged in terrorist operations, according to the official.
A social and economic development program that brings better education, health and infrastructure to the North also is needed to quell the Boko Haram insurgency, the official added. The United States is addressing all these issues through the strategic partnership between Washington and Abuja.”

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