19th November, 2021
By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, discussed a wide range of areas of bilateral cooperation on Thursday.
Among the issues discussed were climate change, security, pandemic response, infrastructure, among others.
The duo agreed that that there was the need to strengthen and improve relations between the US and Nigeria.
The vice president thanked Blinken for the visit, saying that Nigeria is pleased to get much attention from the US.
“And again, just to reaffirm what the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said on the importance of cooperation and the importance of working together.
“And it is actually critical; it is has been shown in the response to COVID-19; this is equally a way of showing how interconnected the whole world is.
“There is no real solution without everyone being protected from this pandemic and the possibility of others.
“And I will also like to thank you through a friend of the Government of the US for the cooperation on security which is very important to us—the Super Tucanos have been delivered and of course, we are looking forward to the helicopters.’’
Osinbajo said that another important aspect of the cooperation is infrastructure and the intelligence support from the US on the security issues in the North-East and the Sahel.
He said that that the security challenges are critical, especially in the Sahel and Lake Chad region with the ISWAP and others.
The vice president said that greater cooperation has become imperative as terrorism, especially with ISWAP, Boko Haram and ISIS had assumed serious dimensions.
According to him, climate change is another important area of collaboration.
“Some of the concerns we had, President Muhammadu Buhari has mentioned at COP26, especially around the whole issue of gas as zero transition fuel given the fact that some countries especially developing countries are fossil fuel rich.
“And no industrialised nation is able to industrialise using renewable energy alone.’’
He said it would be unfair to call on developing countries to rely on renewable energy, especially for industrialisation.
“So, we are looking at adaptation and mitigation measures.
“And I think that we should really look at how there is public investment programme, especially for gas, because it remains the way through which we can increase access to electricity with its problem in developing nations and again it is closely tied to poverty.
“So, we think these are issues that we want to collaborate with you; again, to just say that we are very pleased with the work the US has done in Nigeria.
“ I mentioned earlier that these are works that are somehow masked in a way to ensure that there is bottom up approach.
“There is participation of those that will be the beneficiaries in developing the programme which has been very helpful and I think that accounts for a lot of success we have seen in a good number of those programmes.
“We need to thank the US for that and we thank you also,’’ he said.
On his part, Blinken pledged US collaboration with Nigeria on climate change, investments in infrastructure, developing capacity to manufacture vaccines, security, among others, saying there are many areas of cooperation between US and Nigeria.
Foreign minister Onyeama said that the US had been very supportive in the health sector with vaccine for COVID-19.
He said Nigeria is looking forward to getting support to develop manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccine.
The highlight of the meeting was the adoption of the Development Objective Assistant Agreement by the US Secretary of State and Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Later, at a joint press conference, Blinken announced that he had signed a $2.17 billion development assistance program with Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama.
Washington would also continue to invest in security in Nigeria, Blinken added.