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Clinton to Meet Nigeria President Yar’Adua


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to hold discussions with Nigeria's President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua Wednesday. Secretary Clinton arrived in Nigeria yesterday as part of her seven-nation- Africa visit.

Political analysts believe Secretary Clinton will push hard for the government to address Nigeria's endemic corruption and expedite electoral reforms. They also expect her to seek an update on the status of a 60-day amnesty period in the restive Niger Delta.

The violence in the Niger Delta is blamed for the drastic reduction in Nigeria's oil output.

"The general impression that Nigerians are having is so good. Nigerian people are good people and a great nation. Honestly, Nigerians will be happy to receive her," said Aliyu Bilbis, Nigeria's minister of state for information and communication.

He described as shameful speculation that in his last African visit, President Barack Obama snubbed Nigeria to go to her West African neighbor, Ghana.

"As far as Nigerian people are concerned and the government of the day we just felt that that issue of President Obama's visit to Nigeria, we felt it was a normal thing. He had already scheduled to go to Ghana, so we felt one day, he will visit Nigeria," he said.

Bilbis said detractors have been making wild allegations against his government after President Obama's Ghana visit.

"Nigeria and Ghana are the same as far as we are concerned. It is only that some people are trying to be mischievous and trying to create some problems whereby it is not necessary," Bilbis said.

He denied the government is failing to implement electoral reforms.

"If people can remember, it is this government that said we will reform the electoral processes. And the government has appointed a committee and the committee had submitted its report. And right now, the government has submitted a draft to the national assembly for any electoral laws to come up. So this is part of the arrangement, and I think people should appreciate and give it every support to ensure that it succeeds," he said.

Bilbis said the government's recent amnesty aimed at resolving the crisis in the restive Niger Delta is working.

"What the government is doing at this moment is quite commendable because this issue of amnesty I think is succeeding. Every day you see the militants complying so I think it is succeeding. I think today there were about 40 or 50 militants surrendered and I think people should appreciate that," Bilbis said.

Bilbis also insists that President Yar'Adua will live up to his promise to weed out nationwide corruption.

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