Wednesday, May 10, 2017 7:12 am
Nigeria remains a critical partner to the U.S., Mr Nathan Holt, the Deputy Director, Office of West African Affairs, Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, said.
Holt, who made the remarks on Tuesday from Washington, D.C. via teleconference on: ‘Nigeria, a critical U.S. partner’, said Nigeria’s influence on the African continent could not be overemphasized.
“Nigeria is indeed a critical U.S. partner. Nigeria matters to us because it’s Africa’s most populous country, and depending on the price of oil, it’s either the biggest or the second biggest economy on the continent.
“With a current population of 182 million, Nigeria is projected to grow to over 400 million over the next few decades.
“Which will leave it by the middle of this century as the fourth-largest country in the world; about half the population is Muslim.
“Nigeria has influence, as many of you know, not only as an economic power, as a military power.”
He said the country also has a vibrant emerging, entrepreneurial class which is the future of that country’s economy as well as a vibrant film and music industry which has influence well beyond its borders.
“And I’d like to point out it has traditions of democracy and free press and religious tolerance, all of which contribute to its resilience and its strength,” Holt said.
The U.S. envoy explained that the future of Nigeria was critical for the African continent.
According to him, Nigeria and the U.S. have gone from somewhat adversarial relationship to cordial relationship currently.
Holt also pointed out some of the challenges confronting the country.
“Nigeria is a very important place for us and it faces enormous obstacles, enormous challenges moving forward.
“I don’t want to give the impression that any of this is going to be easy.
“In fact, one of our ways of approaching this country is to point at that perhaps nowhere else on the continent, and maybe few places on the planet, is the gap between the upside potential and the downside risk greater.
“The future of Nigeria matters not just for Nigeria, but very much for its neighbours and I would argue for this planet.
“The good news is that on issue after issue, we’ve gone from a place where we were often not on the same page with Nigeria to a place where we see things very much in the same terms,” the U.S. envoy said.