Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jonathan asks Obama to revisit Terror Blacklist

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has urged President Barack Obama to revisit the classification of Nigeria by the United States as a "country of interest" on the terror list following the botched Christmas day bombing of an American aircraft by a Nigerian, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab.

The acting president's message was conveyed by Nigeria's new Ambassador to the US, Prof. Adebowale Adefuye, while presenting his letter of credence to President Obama at the White House, Washington DC yesterday.

Adefuye, who noted that the incident of December 25, 2009 is condemnable and had been condemned several times by Nigeria, said he had been asked by Acting President Jonathan "to again convey Nigeria's shock at this and urge you to revisit this issue as soon as possible".

The ambassador said: "This event, serious as it is, is a one-off incident and ought not to have warranted the classification of Nigeria as a country of interest in the fight against terrorism."

Speaking further, the envoy said: "On our part, we promise our continued cooperation with United States institutions in the fight against terrorism while pledging to sustain ongoing efforts in Nigeria aimed at effectively preventing terrorist networks from operating within our borders as well as West African region."

While noting that US is one of Nigeria's closest allies and a country which has identified with the nation at all times, Adefuye said: "Indeed, the history of Nigeria's 50 years of statehood will be incomplete without a mention of the proactive role of the United States in supporting us in our quest for sustainable political stability and economic development. The United States' interest in our economic and political well-being has been one of the critical factors for the progress recorded in our effort to consolidate our democracy and deliver its dividends to the people of the country."

He said these underscored the uniqueness of the relationship between the two countries. Justifying the basis for continued cordial bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the US, Adefuye said both countries command influence and respect in the comity of nations; they are endowed with enormous human and natural resources; both countries are made of people from different backgrounds and cultures found in different parts of the world and out which have emerged a large Diaspora population; and because "both countries represent how strong nation-states can emerge out of pluralised subsets due to the spirit of equity, tolerance and determination".

He said as a leader in the African continent, Nigeria has consistently worked with the US in protecting and promoting sustainable global peace and security and that the country is proud of her immense contributions to United Nations peace keeping activities.

"This factor has helped in fostering peace and sustainable development in the African continent and has contributed significantly to international peace. An estimated one million Nigerians and Nigerian-Americans live, study, and work in the United States, while over 25,000 Americans live and work in Nigeria. These populations have played tremendous roles in enhancing social and economic co-existence for both countries. They have further cemented our relationship by their contribution to sustainable economic and social development in our two countries," he said.

Taking the American president down memory lane, Adefuye said: "Nigeria is known as a notable supporter of ideas and ideals championed by the United States at international fora, toward contributing to sustainable development in the world. The government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria acknowledges the tremendous contributions made by the United States towards supporting Nigeria in the entrenchment of sustainable regional security in West Africa.

"We also acknowledge United States' support in our fight against corruption and economic crimes; public health development; support for infrastructural development; capacity building in the oil sector; support for strengthening democratic institutions and counter-terrorism initiatives among others. The Federal Republic of Nigeria requests that these initiatives be sustained and even increased in the following years. We look forward to the successful implementation of the objectives of the Nigeria-United States Bi-National Commission that will be launched in a couple of days."

The envoy who said the acting president also asked him to convene Nigeria's gratitude to the US for its continued support for the nation's democracy, especially during the absence of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua due to ill-health, said Nigeria looks forward to sustained cordial relationship between the two countries.

In his response, President Obama said the US is encouraged by the acting president's public promises to strengthen democratic reforms, improve the economic environment, and address the ongoing violence and impunity seen in the Niger Delta and Jos.

Commenting on the political situation in Nigeria, he observed that "the prolonged absence of President Yar'Adua has triggered much uncertainty in the country", but said "in this difficult time, we applaud Nigeria for taking steps to restore confidence in the country's political system while adhering to democratic principles".

Obama said Nigeria has important role to play as a regional and global leader and that Nigeria and US "must continue our efforts to fight terrorism and violent extremism so as to make West Africa a safer place."

He also said Nigeria's participation in peace-keeping efforts on the continent has helped to stabilise "once troubled regions and allow the people who suffered in those conflicts a chance to rebuild their lives".

The American leader said Nigeria and US have a tradition of positive bilateral relations based on a mutual commitment to development and peace, adding that "the upcoming launch of the US Nigeria binational commision illustrates our desire to further enhance this relationship".

This Day

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