Nigeria and the United States have restated their commitment to stronger and improved relations between them on a wide range of bilateral cooperation issues.
The reaffirmation of the two countries’ commitment was given in Abuja when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, met on Thursday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Blinken, who is on a three-nation tour of Africa, discussed with Osinbajo on a wide range of areas of bilateral cooperation issues, including challenges of climate change, security, pandemic response, infrastructure, among others.
Both top officials of the Nigerian and US governments agreed there was a need to strengthen and improve relations between their governments.
The VP thanked Blinken for the visit, saying Nigeria was pleased to get much attention from the US government.
“And again, just to reaffirm what the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said on the importance of cooperation and the importance of working together.
“And it is actually critical; it has been shown in the response to COVID-19; this is equally a way of showing how interconnected the whole world is.
“There is no real solution without everyone being protected from this pandemic and the possibility of others.
“And I will also like to thank you through a friend of the Government of the US for the cooperation on security, which is very important to us—the Super Tucanos have been delivered and of course, we are looking forward to the helicopters.’’
Osinbajo said another important aspect of the cooperation was infrastructure and the intelligence support from the US on the security issues in the North-East and the Sahel.
He said the security challenges were critical, especially in the Sahel and Lake Chad region with the ISWAP and others.
Osinbajo said greater cooperation has become imperative as terrorism, especially with ISWAP, Boko Haram and ISIS had assumed serious dimensions.
Climate change, he said, was another important area of collaboration.
“Some of the concerns we have were mentioned by President Muhammadu Buhari at COP26, especially around the whole issue of gas as zero transition fuel, given that some countries, especially developing countries, are fossil fuel-rich.
“And no industrialized nation is able to industrialize using renewable energy alone.’’
He said it would be unfair to call on developing countries to rely on renewable energy, especially for industrialization purposes.
“So, we are looking at adaptation and mitigation measures. And I think we should really look at how there is a public investment programme, especially for gas, because it remains the way through which we can increase access to electricity with its problem in developing nations and again it is closely tied to poverty.
“So, we think these are issues that we want to collaborate with you; again, to just say that we are very pleased with the work the US has done in Nigeria.
“I mentioned earlier that these are works that are somehow masked in a way to ensure there is bottom-up approach.
“There is the participation of those that will be the beneficiaries in developing the programme, which has been very helpful and I think that accounts for a lot of success we have seen in a good number of those programmes. We need to thank the US for that and we thank you also,’’ he said.
On his part, Blinken pledged the U.S. government’s collaboration with Nigeria on climate change, investments in infrastructure, developing the capacity to manufacture vaccines, security, among others, saying there are many areas of cooperation between the US and Nigeria.
Earlier in his remarks, Onyeama said the US governemnt had been very supportive in the health sector with the provision of vaccines for COVID-19, adding that Nigeria was looking forward to getting support to develop manufacturing capacity for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The highlight of the meeting was the adoption of the Development Objective Assistant Agreement by the US Secretary of State and Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. (NAN)