Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels to Nigeria on Thursday amid ongoing unrest and human rights concerns prompting a reconsideration of US relations with Africa’s most populous nation.
The leading US diplomat is on his first place trip to Sub-Saharan Africa, where he campaigns for President Joe Biden’s top priorities, namely promoting democracy and combating climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.
At his first stop on Wednesday at Long-time ally of Kenya, Blinken called for Africa-driven solutions to the continent’s crises, including the worsening war in Ethiopia – where Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo led the mediation.
With 20 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa and its largest population economy, Nigeria is vital to any continent-wide strategy, and to successive US governments n have courted Nigerian leaders since the restoration of civil rule in 1999.
But US views of Nigeria already tarnished by years of violence and rampant co-slump that had intensified last year after security forces unleashed deadly violence in massive protests against police brutality.
In an unusually haunting statement as a candidate, Biden expressed his solidarity with the demonstrators and urged President Muhammadu Buhari to meet the Blinken on Thursday – at Curb security forces.
Senator Bob Menendez, a member of Biden’s Democratic Party and chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, called for a “fundamental rethink of the framework” at a hearing with Blinken. All of our engagement “with Nigeria.
Objections from Congress prevented the sale of 12 US Cobra attack helicopters to Nigeria, as the military were asked to investigate whether the military is doing enough to prevent the death of civilians fighting the two decade Boko Haram jihadist insurrection.
But Nigeria recently received a separate shipment of Super Tocano fighter jets after former President Donald Trump gave the go-ahead for sale, which by The pr. Malicious administration of Barack Obama was stopped after Nigeria’s accidental attack on a refugee camp, in which more than 100 people were killed.
Removed from the blacklist
The previous evening During his visit, Blinken undone a Trump action by. To remove Nigeria from a US blacklist of nations that violate religious freedom.
Blinken’s predecessor Mike Pompeo, d He did not visit Nigeria, made the decision late in his tenure at the urging of evangelical Christians, who say attacks on the community in the religiously diverse nation are systematic.
Blinken in Nairobi urged close ally Kenya to do so too to ensure free and safe elections for the next year – and admitted the United States was “barely immune” to such concerns, a veiled reference to the January 6 mob violence by Trump supporters trying to secure Biden’s victory to tilt.
Oge Onubogu, West Africa director of the US Peace Institute, said the Biden administration should draw parallels between Nigeria and Ethiopia, where ethnic The conflict in a great nation has turned into a devastating war that risks regional chaos.
Blinken, she said, can reinforce the message that “what is happening in Nigeria affects not only Nigeria but also West Africa”. and the rest of the continent too “.
Onubogu said there should be no” business as usual “and that the United States should be more direct with the Nigerian people, not just the government.
Foreign ministry officials said Blinken will raise human rights in Nigeria and meet with civil society groups throughout the trip that will also take him to Senegal.
“People will see. They’ll say ok the tone is changing, but they want more reassurance that things are actually going in the right direction, “said Onubogu.