Remarks En Route Abuja, Nigeria
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs
The U.S. has had a very good relationship with Nigeria over a number of years and appreciates greatly its contribution to returning stability to both Sierra Leone and Liberia. It also – its contribution in providing peacekeepers to a number of peacekeeping operations around Africa. The U.S. wants to strengthen and deepen its relationship with Nigeria. Despite our close relationship, Nigeria faces a number of major challenges: conflict in the delta, which has gone on for over a decade; tensions that frequently flare up between Muslims and Christians in the northern part of the country where some 75 million Muslims live, making it the second largest Muslim population in Africa and the largest Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa. It also faces challenges with respect to corruption. It has been described by a number of organizations as one of the most corrupt states in Africa. And we all know what corruption can do to public confidence, to the confidence of citizens in their government, and also to destroying the budget and the fabric of governmental operations.