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US-Nigerian Relations Good, Says Envoy

  • Douglas Mpuga

The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday named Kaduna State governor Namadi Sambo as the country’s new vice president.

He replaces Goodluck Jonathan, who became president following the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua earlier this month.

With the naming of the vice president, Nigeria appears to have reached an end to six months of uncertainty about the country’s top leadership. Jonathan had been serving as acting president for Yar’Adua, who had been ill for several months.

The transition so far seems to have had little effect on Nigeria’s relations with the international community.

“U.S.-Nigeria relations are at a good place,” said Robin Renee Sanders, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria. She cited the bi-national commission signed in April that is about to be launched.

“I think it is a reflection of not only the strategic dialogue we want to have with Nigeria but the importance of Nigeria to the US government,” she said.

She said electoral reform has been a key topic of discussions between the two countries over the past few years.

“Of late, we have focused a lot ,” she said, “….on encouraging transparency in the voter registry and having strong and new leadership within the independent electoral commission, and that seems to be happening.”
General elections in Nigeria take place next year. Shortly after his inauguration, Jonathan renewed his pledge to carry out electoral reforms and to help achieve a free and fair vote.

Last Friday, three former Nigerian heads of state urged President Goodluck Jonathan to "do the right thing" and ensure that credible elections take place in Africa's most populous nation.

The ambassador also expressed optimism that the amnesty for Niger Delta rebels initiated by the Yar’Adua administration will succeed.

“We believe the amnesty is the right thing to do,” she said. “We are looking forward to seeing what the current [president Goodluck] Jonathan administration is going to do to further enhance and solidify the amnesty.”

She said the US is also working with Muslim communities in northern Nigeria especially in areas of development like education and health. It’s part of a broader effort by the US government to show support and friendship with the Islamic world.

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