United States, U.S has offered to assist Nigeria track down billions of dollars in stolen assets as well as increase its military assistance to fight and eliminate Boko Haram in Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari is billed to meet with his US counterpart, Barak Obama today to discuss issues of common interest and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Tony Blinken told Reuters that “President Barack Obama has long seen Nigeria as arguably the most important strategic country in sub-Saharan Africa. The is an opportunity to deepen our engagement”.
Buhari’s visit to Washington is viewed by the U.S. administration as a chance to set the seal on improving ties since he (Buhari) won the March 28 presidential election and subsequently sworn-in on May 29.
It would be noticed that U.S. cooperation with Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, had virtually grounded to a halt over issues including his refusal to investigate corruption and human rights abuses by the Nigerian military.
Speaking on U.S military assistance, Blinken said, “We’ve made it clear there are additional things that can be done, especially now that there is a new military leadership in place.”
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 Islamist movement.
Nigerian Pilot recalls that since Buhari’s election, Washington has committed $5million in new support for a multi-national taskforce setup to fight the group. This is in addition to at least $34million it is providing to Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger for equipment and logistics.
Buhari’s move on July 13 to fire military chiefs appointed by Jonathan clears the way for more military cooperation, U.S. officials say.
Another senior U.S. official said Washington was urging President Buhari to step up regional cooperation against Boko Haram and to provide more aid to afflicted communities to reduce the group’s recruiting power.
Buhari has said his priorities are strengthening Nigeria’s economy, hard-hit by the fall in oil prices, boosting investment, and tackling “the biggest monster of all – corruption”.
“Here too, he is looking to deepen collaboration and one of the things he is focused on is asset recovery,” the official said. “He is hopeful we can help them recover some of that.”
The improving ties with Nigeria come as U.S. relations have cooled with two other traditional Africa powers – Egypt and South Africa.
In 2014, the United States took control of more than $480 million siphoned away by Sani Abacha and his associates into banks around the world.
Washington has broad powers to track suspicious funds and enforce sanctions against individuals.
Jonathan fired the former central bank governor in February last year after he raised questions about the disappearance of about $20 billion in oil revenues.
Johnnie Carson, a former assistant secretary of state, said Washington should not let security issues overshadow the need for closer trade and investment ties.
“Nigeria is the most important country in Africa,” said Carson, currently an adviser to the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Now more than ever, “the relationship with Nigeria should not rest essentially on a security and military-to-military relationship,” he added.
Lauren Ploch Blanchard, an Africa specialist with the non-partisan Congressional Research Services, said the U.S. challenge was to work with Buhari while giving him time to address the country’s vast problems.

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