Blinken to visit Nigeria to further boost strategic partnership

Blinken to visit Nigeria to further boost strategic partnership

F.P. Report

WASHINGTON: Secretary Antony J. Blinken will visit Nigeria November 18-19, where he will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, and representatives from civil society and discuss furthering cooperation on global health security, expanding energy access and economic growth, and revitalizing democracy.  The Secretary will also deliver a speech on U.S.-Africa policy in the capital of Africa’s largest democracy.  Also, the Secretary will celebrate the signing of the $2.17 billion Development Objective Assistance Agreement with the Vice President, which will play a role in supporting a healthier, more educated, prosperous, stable, and resilient Nigeria.

U.S. Nigeria Relations

Home to Africa’s largest population, democracy, and economy, Nigeria is one of our most important partners on the continent. Nigeria’s stability and prosperity are inseparable from that of the region.

The year 2020 was historic, as Nigerians reflected on the opportunities and challenges facing the country while marking the 60th anniversary of their independence and the beginning of bilateral relations with the United States.

Pandemic Response and Health

The United States and Nigeria have collaborated closely to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 60 interagency members from the U.S. Mission worked side-by-side with Nigerian counterparts, including on the COVID-19 Presidential Task Force, to plan and respond to the pandemic.

In partnership with COVAX or bilaterally, the United States has provided more than seven and a half million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Nigeria and provided more than $119 million in COVID-19-related health and humanitarian assistance. This includes a 40-bed mobile field hospital; support for ventilators and personal protective equipment; technical assistance with vaccine readiness; conducting epidemiological COVID-19 detection and vaccine hesitancy surveys; setting up electronic record systems; providing rapid response teams; training over 200,000 military and civilian personnel on COVID-19 control measures; developing and disseminating targeted education and prevention information through multiple channels; and transferring technology for virtual training.  In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helped establish a network of 153 COVID-19 testing labs nationwide.

Ongoing U.S. health programs reach more than 66 million Nigerians with lifesaving services, including by training public health workers and improving access to quality medicines, vaccines, medical facilities, and reproductive health materials.

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has worked with the Government of Nigeria since 2004 to provide HIV care and treatment services, propelling Nigeria toward epidemic control within the next two years. As of June 30, 2021, more than 1.6 million Nigerians are receiving PEPFAR-supported HIV treatment as a result of a historic surge that placed 350,000 new patients on lifesaving antiretrovirals, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since 1997, the United States has supported polio surveillance and polio vaccination campaigns that reached nearly all of Nigeria’s 33 million children under five years of age, contributing to Nigeria’s certification as wild polio-virus free in 2020. In addition, with U.S. support routine immunization coverage in children increased from 57 percent in 2018 to 71 percent in 2020.

Since 2011, the President’s Malaria Initiative has procured almost 67 million insecticide-treated nets, 62 million rapid diagnostic test kits, 129 million treatment courses for malaria, and 22 million doses of malaria prophylaxis suitable for pregnant women, as part of over $712 million contributed to malaria control in Nigeria. In addition, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research has trained over 600 laboratory personnel on malaria diagnostics.

Nigeria is a key U.S. partner in the Global Health Security Agenda. Since FY2020, USAID has provided more than $4 million to support capacity building programs to strengthen zoonotic disease surveillance, animal labs, infection prevention and control, antimicrobial resistance prevention, and risk communication.

Trade, Investment, and Climate

Nigeria is our second-largest trading partner in Africa with two-way trade between our nations totaling over $10 billion in 2019. The United States is proud to be one of the largest foreign investors in Nigeria with foreign direct investment totaling $5.5 billion in 2019.  S. support for economic growth includes funding $8.5 million in feasibility studies and technical assistance in 2020-2021, extending loan guarantees worth up to $80 million, and coordinating development finance in important sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, renewable energy, and information and communication technology.  These activities support bilateral trade and investment ties while building more modern and sustainable infrastructure across Nigeria.

Through Feed the Future and the West Africa Trade and Investment Hub, the United States supports private sector expansion of markets, as well as the introduction of techniques to increase productivity, strengthen resilience, and improve nutrition for 2.3 million farmers and their communities. The United States also worksto increase access to reliable water and sanitation, promote good hygiene, andprotect watersheds.

Since its launch in 2013, Power Africa has mobilized $4.3 billion in financing in Nigeria and helped connect nearly two million households and businesses to electricity. Power Africa helps to attract private sector investment and supports the rollout of both on-grid and renewable off-grid electricity connections to spur economic growth, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce poverty, including through support to the Presidential Power Initiative, Nigeria Electrification Project, and Solar Power Naija.  President Buhari participated in President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate in April 2021.

People-to-People Relations

There are more than 500,000 Nigerian-born American citizens and lawful permanent residents in the United States. With more than100,000 travelers to the United States each year, Nigerians boost American businesses, colleges, and universities.

Nigeria sends more students to U.S. colleges and universities than any other country in Africa and is the eleventh largest source country worldwide of international students to the United States. In the 2019-2020 academic year, a record-breaking number of nearly 14,000 Nigerians pursued U.S. graduate and undergraduate degrees.  In 2020, advisees of EducationUSA services received scholarships worth $28 million.

Since 2015, the United States has provided more than nine million teacher’s guides and books in five of Nigeria’s most widely spoken languages to advance early grade reading;mainstreamed 340,000 out of school youth; trained 10,000 teachers; and reached more than one million students with improved reading skills instruction.

The Fulbright, Mandela Washington Fellowship, TechWomen, and International Visitor’s Leadership Programs in Nigeria are the largest in Africa. Through the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs, Mission Nigeria has trained over 500 female entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge to advance their businesses.  There are over 8,000 education and exchange program alumni from Nigeria.

Democracy and Human Rights

The U.S. government continues to work to help strengthen democratic institutions and processes in Nigeria, including support for peaceful, free and fair elections.

The United States promotes collaboration between government and civil society at all levels, including more than 200 civil society organizations led by women and members of marginalized groups, to support constructive dialogue on upholding democratic development, including supporting free and fair elections, and promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. We also support initiatives that promote justice, transparency, and accountability, as well as the establishment of unified and robust early warning systems to identify and mitigate drivers of communal violence in vulnerable states.

Striving for Peace and Security

Northeast Nigeria is the location of one of the world’s most challenging and complex humanitarian crises, due to a variety of factors including difficult security conditions and high levels of food insecurity. The United States is the largest humanitarian donor in response to the crisis, providing more than $2.1 billion since 2015 and supporting two  million conflict-affected households.  With more than $364 million in funding in 2021, the United States continues to support life-saving assistance to vulnerable populations, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and food-insecure households.

The United States provides technical assistance and trains law enforcement and judiciary professionals to address many challenges including banditry and kidnapping, counter-narcotics, cyber-crime, protecting intellectual property rights, and more effectively addressing trafficking in persons and gender-based violence. S. law enforcement programming focuses on building the capacity of civilian security actors, particularly the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency, and Nigerian Customs.

In 2021, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism launched the U.S. funded Threat Assessment Models program in Nigeria. This program seeks to address challenges by matching aviation security countermeasures to the current threats to civil aviation.  It provides UN member states with technical assistance on national interagency coordination structures to enable the integration and analysis of timely and relevant terrorist threat inputs into aviation security risk management activities.  Additionally, the U.S. funded the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s MIDAS program in Nigeria in 2021.  Through MIDAS, IOM aims to develop a fully operational border management information system which will seek to improve the capacity of Nigerian border management officials’ data use and management in addition to traditional border management methods, including interviewing techniques.

Since 2017, U.S. security assistance to Nigeria has totaled approximately $650 million, in addition to $500 million in Foreign Military Sales. Nigeria also has the largest International Military-Education and Training program in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2021, the United States delivered twelve A-29 Super Tucano aircraft purchased by Nigeria as part of the largest Foreign Military Sale in Sub-Saharan Africa, as part of a package that included human rights training and civilian protection measures. Nigeria also commenced air-to-ground integration training in 2021 and continues active participation in military justice reform, mitigation of civilian casualties, and human rights trainings.  Nigeria avidly participates in the U.S.-led multilateral regional security exercise OBANGAME EXPRESS and FLINTLOCK and regularly partners with U.S. special operations forces, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Navy to build capacity and interoperability at international standards.  In August 2021, USS Hershel “Woody” Williamssuccessfully conducted the first U.S. Navy port call to Nigeria in recent memory, followed by at-sea interoperability exercises for the second year in a row.  Nigeria continues to play an active role in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, including co-hosting a Coalition meeting in 2019 focused on West Africa and the Sahel.

U.S. maritime domain awareness (MDA) assistance in Nigeria amounts to over $5 million for multiple information operations centers, technology, and training, including an MDA schoolhouse. Nigeria sails four former U.S. ships transferred under the Excess Defense Articles program.

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