Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama and the visiting US Secretary of State, Mr. Antony J. Blinken have signed a new $2.17 billion Development Objectives Assistance Agreement (DOAG) to promote health, education, economic growth, stable government, and security in Nigeria.A statement by the US Mission in Nigeria on Friday said that the five-year DOAG signed on Thursday in Abuja underscores the shared goals of the US and Nigeria to strengthen democracy, build lasting security and promote economic ties and diversification.
The United States will through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) make funds available incrementally over the five years.
As part of the agreement, the Nigerian government will contribute resources such as space, staffing, and logistical support for USAID’s portfolio of activities to ensure maximum reach and impact.
These activities, the U.S says, are designed in alignment with Nigeria’s development priorities.
In his remarks at the signing ceremony, Mr. Onyeama thanked Blinken for showing great solidarity with Nigeria both in his personal and official capacity.
“We just would like to thank you for what you have been doing in your new capacity in supporting Nigeria and sharing your friendship and solidarity towards Nigeria,” the minister said.
Onyeama also stated that Nigeria hopes to see some easing of the bottlenecks with regards to visas for Nigerians to the U.S.
“We had a mechanism, a dropbox mechanism, that was in existence for many, many years, and unfortunately that has now been – we hope it’s suspended and it will be reinstated. But there are issues there, and we hope that the Secretary would also help to ease the visa challenges that Nigerians wishing to enter the US have,” local media reports quoted the minister as saying.
In his reaction, the US Secretary of State said his country welcomes working in ever closer ways, “because one of the things that we feel very strongly is that the big challenges all of our citizens face simply can’t be addressed by any one of us acting alone”.
Blinken stated that “there’s a greater premium than there’s ever been on working together, finding ways to cooperate. We’re all feeling that very strongly when it comes to COVID-19, and we’re grateful for the work we’ve been able to do together on that.
“And I think looking to the future, developing capacity for manufacturing vaccines in Africa is going to be critical, especially in dealing with, unfortunately, the next pandemic, because there almost certainly will be one. We know from the work that we’re doing together on climate that we have to be doing this together, and we very much appreciate what Nigeria has done, including at COP26 and including with regard to dealing with methane emissions,”
According to him, there is much that both nations can do together to build their economies after the pandemic, and “much of that goes to the right kinds of investment in infrastructure, in green economies, in making sure that the investments we’re making together are really a race to the top for our people in terms of the standards that we bring to these projects”.
He extended the US appreciation for the security cooperation being developed, and thanked the government for the hospitality, stressing that his country is especially pleased for the good work that both nation are doing together.