Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Interview with VOA on U.S.-Nigeria Bilateral Relationship

Please click to listern to clips from the interview

This is the article written by Douglas Mpuga (May 19, 2010) titled US-Nigerian Relations Good, Says Envoy

The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday named Kaduna State governor Namadi Sambo as the country’s new vice president.

He replaces Goodluck Jonathan, who became president following the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua earlier this month.

With the naming of the vice president, Nigeria appears to have reached an end to six months of uncertainty about the country’s top leadership. Jonathan had been serving as acting president for Yar’Adua, who had been ill for several months.

The transition so far seems to have had little effect on Nigeria’s relations with the international community.

“U.S.-Nigeria relations are at a good place,” said Robin Renee Sanders, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria. She cited the bi-national commission signed in April that is about to be launched.

“I think it is a reflection of not only the strategic dialogue we want to have with Nigeria but the importance of Nigeria to the US government,” she said.

She said electoral reform has been a key topic of discussions between the two countries over the past few years.

“Of late, we have focused a lot ,” she said, “….on encouraging transparency in the voter registry and having strong and new leadership within the independent electoral commission, and that seems to be happening.”

General elections in Nigeria take place next year. Shortly after his inauguration, Jonathan renewed his pledge to carry out electoral reforms and to help achieve a free and fair vote.

Last Friday, three former Nigerian heads of state urged President Goodluck Jonathan to "do the right thing" and ensure that credible elections take place in Africa's most populous nation.

The ambassador also expressed optimism that the amnesty for Niger Delta rebels initiated by the Yar’Adua administration will succeed.

“We believe the amnesty is the right thing to do,” she said. “We are looking forward to seeing what the current [president Goodluck] Jonathan administration is going to do to further enhance and solidify the amnesty.”

She said the US is also working with Muslim communities in northern Nigeria especially in areas of development like education and health. It’s part of a broader effort by the US government to show support and friendship with the Islamic world.

Find this article at:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ambassador Sanders addresses the Council on Foreign Relations

On my last trip to Washington, I was pleased to be able to meet with members of the Council on Foreign Relations to discuss the current political situation in Nigeria and the country’s prospects for the future. On May 14, I engaged in a lively discussion on the reality of the situation in Nigeria and the promise of improved living conditions for its people as it continues to follow the path of democracy and implement the will of the people.

Nigeria has just undergone an extended period of uncertainty with the illness and passing of the former President, Musa Yar’Adua. In a country of such wealth, the new Jonathan administration has a unique opportunity to put those resources to use for the benefit of all. As friends and partners of Nigeria, we stand by to support them in their quest for a transparent and credible election. I was pleased to have the opportunity to address the Council’s questions on the future of Nigeria and to provide a snapshot of the current situation on the ground, even as it continues to unfold.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Corporate Council on Africa Hosts Roundtable with Ambassador Sanders

On May 14, I participated in a Roundtable discussion with members of the Corporate Council on Africa in Washington, DC. These are business people working in Africa who are always very interested in keeping abreast of political and economic developments in the region. As Ambassador, I have had an ongoing dialogue with them, as they provide me with invaluable information about the current business climate in Nigeria and I can offer them insights into the thinking of top political leaders and policy makers whose decisions will impact their businesses.

On Friday, our discussion focused on two primary areas — the current political and economic situation in the country. Participants asked about the upcoming 2011 elections, aspects of the recently signed Binational Commission and what it would mean for U.S.-Nigeria bilateral relations, and about the new President’s pick for Vice President and what that would mean for stability and unity in the country. On the economic side, we discussed the potential economic impacts of the recently passed Local Content Bill for foreign investors.

As always, these exchanges provide an invaluable opportunity for representatives from government and the private sector to work together to understand the realities of the situation on the ground and I am honored to be able to bridge that gap and provide information to US companies doing business in Nigeria.