Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why President Barack Obama shunned Nigeria

The United States yesterday explained why President Barack Obama won’t visit Nigeria during his upcoming three-nation trip to Africa.

The reason, top US officials said was not unconnected to the current security challenges in the country.

The US government said Obama’s visit would focus on trade and investment, democratic institution-building, young people, and enhancement of economic growth.

American Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes, made the clarification at a press briefing on Tuesday.

The briefing was addressed jointly with the Senior Director for African Affairs, Grant Harris and Senior Director for Development and Democracy, Gayle Smith..

The text of the briefing was made available to newsmen in Abuja by the Information Office of the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy.

Rhodes said, “With respect to Nigeria, we certainly believe that Nigeria is fundamentally an important country to the future of Africa. We have put a lot of investments in the relationship with Nigeria through their leadership of ECOWAS, through the significant US business investment in Nigeria and through our security cooperation.

“Obviously, Nigeria is working through some very challenging security issues right now. And in that process, they’re going to be a partner of the United States. We certainly believe we’ll have an opportunity to further engage the Nigerian government through bilateral meetings going forward. But at this point, we just were not able to make it to Nigeria on this particular itinerary.

“I will say that we purposefully designed the itineraries to be able to reach West Africa, South Africa and East Africa, and in West Africa, to visit Senegal, a French-speaking, Muslim-majority democracy that is an important partner of the United States and also provide a platform for the President to speak to the broader region.’

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