The United States will offer to help Nigeria’s government to track down billions of dollars in stolen assets and increase military assistance to fight insurgents, U.S. officials said, as Washington seeks to “reset” ties with Africa’s biggest economy.
Next week’s visit to Washington by President Muhammadu Buhari is viewed by the U.S. administration as a chance to set the seal on improving ties since he won a March election hailed as Nigeria’s first democratic power transition in decades.
U.S. cooperation with Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, had virtually ground to a halt over issues including his refusal to investigate corruption and human rights abuses by the Nigerian military.
“President (Barack Obama) has long seen Nigeria as arguably the most important strategic country in sub-Saharan Africa,” U.S Deputy Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, told Reuters.
“The question is would there be an opportunity to deepen our engagement and that opportunity is now.”
The improving ties with Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, come as U.S relations have cooled with two other traditional Africa powers – Egypt and South Africa.
U.S officials have said they are willing to send military trainers to help Nigeria counter a six-year-old northern insurgency by the Boko Haram sect.
Since Buhari’s election, Washington has committed $5 million in new support for a multi-national task force set up to fight the group.
This is in addition to at least $34 million it is providing to Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger for equipment and logistics.
Source; The Nation