Clinton takes good governance message to Nigeria

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took her campaign for good governance on Wednesday to Nigeria, hoping to deepen ties with the African power but also to help fight corruption and religious strife.

On a whirlwind trip through Africa, Clinton was holding a day of talks in Abuja, the capital of the continent’s most populous nation, including a meeting with President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

Clinton was also due to hold a roundtable discussion with religious leaders in the wake of recent violence, the latest part of US President Barack Obama’s bid to reach out to the Islamic world.

Clinton’s top Africa adviser said that ties with Nigeria were crucial to the US relationship with the continent due to the country’s vast size and its major oil industry, much of which feeds the US market.

”Nigeria is undoubtedly the most important country in sub-Saharan Africa,” Johnnie Carson, the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, told reporters on Clinton’s plane to Abuja from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) late on Tuesday.

Carson said that the US had a ”very good relationship” with Nigeria over recent years and hailed the country’s increasingly active regional profile, including efforts to stabilise Sierra Leone and Liberia.

”Despite our close relationship, Nigeria faces a number of major challenges,” Carson said.

He pointed to attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta — which cost the developing country hundreds of thousands of barrels in crude a day — and a flare-up in religious strife in a nation with sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest Muslim population.

Nigerian security forces late last month crushed an uprising by a self-styled Taliban fundamentalist group in several northern states, leaving more than 800 people dead, the majority of them sect members.

The Obama administration has made outreach to the Islamic world a signature US policy, hoping to assuage some of the bitterness among many Muslims over former president George Bush’s policies, particularly in the invasion of Iraq.

Clinton was set to hold a roundtable discussion with religious leaders at the Yar’Adua Centre, named after Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, the late elder brother of the current president and an advocate of democratic rule.

A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Clinton would listen to the religious leaders but that her main message would be on good governance and electoral reform.

Yar’Adua won a 2007 election that poll monitors said was riddled with problems. Nonetheless, some observers saw it as at least a small step forward in a regional giant that has only experienced few peaceful transitions of power.

”Nigeria is at something of a political crossroads. The last elections were deeply flawed,” the senior US official said.

He said that Clinton would encourage Nigeria to undertake electoral reforms to ensure future polls can move forward without so much controversy.

Clinton will also hold a public forum with representatives of civil society on ways to fight Nigeria’s notorious corruption.

Clinton has made good governance a key issue on her seven-nation trip. Obama, in an address in Ghana last month, called on Africans to take charge of their futures by standing up against corruption. — Sapa-AFP

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Shaun Tandon
Shaun Tandon
State Department correspondent @AFP. Formerly covering Japan, India

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Major research crisis after investors pull funding from African Academy...

A Deloitte report highlights allegations of financial mismanagement and fraud, while salary increases for senior management exceeded the limit set by the governing council

ANC integrity body wants Ingonyama Trust gone

The party needs to review laws to ensure they do not prevent rural people from having security of tenure

Social pact needed for Marikana renewal – Adam Habib

That pact needs to be engineered by civilians, not government, says the former Wits vice-chancellor

Cosatu details plans for next week’s cost of living strike

The trade union federation is using protest to demand urgent action from the government to avoid an ‘economic collapse’

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…