Nigerian, US presidents pledge to fight terrorism
President Goodluck Jonathan Monday met with his United States counterpart, Barack Obama, for bilateral talks and assured him that his administration would ensure the conduct of credible elections in 2015.
Jonathan while responding to his host’s remarks that Nigeria is a major stakeholder in Africa and needed to be encouraged to hold free and fair elections in 2015, told Obama that his administration would improve on its efforts in the 2011 general election by ensuring that the forthcoming ones are better organised.
He also applauded US for creating a paradigm shift away from crises ridden elections right from its independence
According to Jonathan, the relationship between the two countries has grown in various sectors of the economy, making Nigeria US’ biggest trading partner in Africa.
The Nigerian president explained that after the criticisms that trailed the 2007 presidential election that brought him and his principal then, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to power, he had resolved to deliver a democratically elected government even if he was not favoured at the polls.
“We have had controversial elections between 1960 and 2011, including the one that ushered me in as vice-president. My administration promised to improve the democratic process and minimise corruption, nepotism. We delivered what has so far been adjudged as the most credible elections in Nigeria since our democratic experiment. We will continue to build strong institutions that will help consolidate the gains we have made,” Jonathan added.
He said he looked forward to Obama’s initiative of powering Africa, adding that already some American stakeholders in the power sector were involved in the privatisation of the sector in Nigeria.
On terrorism, Jonathan said it has become a global issue and Nigeria was grappling with its own share of it, promising to cooperate with the US in the fight against global terror.
“This relationship must continue if we must face global issues together as we have done in the past,” Jonathan said, adding that he was satisfied with the co-operation existing between the two countries.
“We will continue to co-operate with the US in solving our problems,” he said.
According to him, the US has been Nigeria’s partner since independence and expressed gladness that the two countries have benefited from each other’s relationship with Nigeria as the largest US trading partner in Africa and its fifth largest oil exporter to the country.
“The two countries are very strong from two perspectives. The US is the greatest super-power in the world while Nigeria is also a strong country in terms of size and economy growth in the continent,” he said.
The two presidents agreed terror was unacceptable to the civilised world and must be fought to a just end.
They also sympathised with President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya whose country was attacked by the terrorist group, Al Shabbab, on Sunday.
Obama, who made the opening remarks, said the US was supportive of Nigeria in its fight against terrorism, adding that Boko Haram was one of the most hideous terrorist organisations facing mankind and should be battled until it ceases to exist.
He said: “Boko Haram is a most vicious terrorist organisation, a challenge to the civilised world and the US wants to be involved in the war to eliminate it.”
He further extended his heartfelt sympathy to the people of Kenya, stressing that the US would do everything to assist Kenyatta and his people.
On energy, Obama said Nigeria was also setting a pace that needed to be admired in Africa and other countries.
According to him, his two visits to some African countries were aimed at knowing what areas the US could be most relevant in the continent’s economic needs and development.
The US president said he was happy to know that Nigeria was on course and in tandem with his Power Africa Initiative.
Obama along with some members of his cabinet, which included Secretary of State John Kerry, later had lunch with Jonathan before the Nigerian president left for the New York Stock Exchange to ring the closing bell.