24/07/2012: Obama eyes stronger ties with Nigeria, others in new strategy.
AS he moves towards the conclusion of his first term in office, the United States President Barack Obama is stepping up his personal and White House engagements with Nigeria, Kenya and a selected few other sub-Saharan African countries with recent visits to four African capitals including Abuja by his top aides.
According to a White House statement at the weekend, the visits which were concluded on July 20 focused on the newly outlined Obama policy for the continent, called the “U.S.-Africa Strategy.”
Obama launched the strategy last month, including an insistence that “the United States will not stand idly by when actors threaten legitimately elected governments or manipulate the fairness and integrity of democratic processes.”
According to the White House National Security Council Spokesperson, Tommy Vietor, “Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman led a high level delegation consisting of senior Administration officials from the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Agency for International Development, USTR, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Department of State and the National Security Staff to sub-Saharan Africa from July 11 – 20.”
Sent at the personal request of President Obama few months to the U.S. presidential election in November, the trip included stops in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Nairobi, Kenya; and Abuja, Nigeria.
The White House statement disclosed that “at each stop the delegation met with a cross section of government officials, private sector leaders and young entrepreneurs to push forward a range of issues and initiatives,” many of which bear the personal marks of the Obama administration.
They include, according to the statement, “the Partnership for Growth, the East African Community trade and investment partnership, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the National Export Initiative, the Young African Leaders Initiative as well as energy generation, transmission and distribution and infrastructure development.”
It was also stated that the trips to the four capitals including Abuja “comes on the heels of the launch of the U.S. Strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa, and was focused on steps to accelerate efforts to enhance U.S. Government collaboration with our African partners to promote increased investment, build the capacity of Africa’s economic institutions, and drive sustained economic growth and poverty alleviation in the region.”
The Obama strategy for Africa had noted that while many countries on the continent had made tremendous strides to broaden political participation and reduce corruption, “there is more work to be done to ensure fair electoral processes, transparent institutions that protect universal rights, and the provision and protection of security and public goods.”
The strategy added that the U.S. message “to those who would derail the democratic process is clear and unequivocal: the United States will not stand idly by when actors threaten legitimately elected governments or manipulate the fairness and integrity of democratic processes, and we will stand in steady partnership with those who are committed to the principles of equality, justice, and the rule of law.”
Article by Laolu Akande, The Guardian Nigeria, http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=93269:obama-eyes-stronger-ties-with-nigeria-others-in-new-strategy&catid=1:national&Itemid=559 retrieved 7/24/12.