By Salim Yunusa
Nigeria and the United States have signed an agreement worth $.2.17bn to improve access to quality education, public health and other services.
The agreement was signed Thursday during a meeting between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and United States’ Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.
Blinken spoke on the agreement during a joint press conference with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.
He said: “We are working with Nigeria to build back better from the pandemic by fostering inclusive sustainable economic growth. That’s the goal of the 2 billion development agreement that Jeffrey and I just signed, and which will make I think, significant investments in improving access to quality education, public health and other services and tools that Nigeria’s rising generations are looking for, and need to thrive here at home and in the global economy.
“And we’re committed to working with the government as it pursues economic reforms, for example, to create a more stable regulatory environment to attract more foreign investment.”
He said the US support for primary health care provided vital services to more than 60 million Nigerians which among others helped to create a robust infrastructure for Nigeria’s COVID-19 response and broader efforts to strengthen public health security, which are essential to detect and prevent the next pandemic.
“The USAID has a five-year $110m project, the Nigeria power sector programme, and that’s supporting key initiatives like the solar power major, which will bring solar energy to 25 million Nigerians who are off the electric grid and lack access to power. That in turn is expected to create as many as 250,000 new jobs in the energy sector, spur who local industry, generate 18 and a half million dollars in annual tax revenues. So, it will have practical, meaningful effects.
“We’re working with Nigeria to address security challenges, including those posed by Boko Haram, ISIS West Africa and other terrorist and extremist groups. In meetings with the President, with the Vice President, with the foreign minister, we discussed the importance of a comprehensive approach that builds effective security forces, addresses the underlying drivers of extremism, and respects Nigerians basic human rights.”
He charged government to ensure the safety and wellbeing of groups involved in human rights advocacy, such as journalists, rights crusaders and others.
“I look very much forward to meeting several of these leaders tomorrow, including faith leaders who are defusing communal tensions, and promoting peace. And we look forward to Nigeria, Africa’s largest democracy joining the summit for democracy next month, Blinken said.
Onyeama defended loans from China for infrastructure, saying it was sustainable.
He said China provided a better deal and urged the US to tow the same line by helping to transfer technology and others