Hillary Clinton To Visit Nigeria Next Month

United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is billed to visit Nigeria early next month, This Day has learnt. Though the visit has not been officially announced by the US government, sources at the State Department said preparations were in top gear for the Secretary of State to be in Abuja early August on a one-day visit. "We are still harmonising details of the visit with the Government of Nigeria, but it will be in early August," a source said. It was learnt that Nigerian Ambassador, Professor Adebowale Adefuye, who would begin his annual leave early August, has held several meetings with officials of the US government on the planned visit. Though This Day could not confirm the exact date of the planned visit at the time of going to press, it was learnt from sources at the State Department that Clinton's itinerary includes meeting with top Nigerian officials in Abuja. This Day further gathered that while in Abuja, Clinton may also use the opportunity of her visit to announce some major gains of the Nigeria, US Binational Commission (BNC). It was Clinton who signed the Bi-national Commission Agreement with the then Secretary to the Federal Government, Ahmed Yayale, at the State Department, Washington DC in April of 2010. The BNC initially had four working groups - good governance, transparency and integrity; energy and investment; food security and agriculture; Niger Delta and regional security co-operation. Early this year, the Niger Delta and regional security component was split into two on US suggestion, thereby bringing the components to five. Since 2010 when the agreement was signed, series of highlevel meetings had been held both in Nigeria and in US, some of the gains of which would be highlighted during her visit. There had also been several investors' fora on power and agriculture, including an upcoming forum on infrastructure. Some of the gains of the various high level meetings and investors' fora include increased interest of American investors in Nigeria's non-oil sector; US Ex-Im Bank $1.5 billion guarantee for investment in Nigeria's power sector; and increased assistance to Nigerian security agencies to effectively tackle internal security challenges, and donation of a warship to Nigerian Navy to tackle piracy and armed banditry in the Niger Delta and the Gulf of Guinea. Next month's visit, would be coming three years after Clinton made a similar trip to Nigeria and barely two months after the largest ever meeting of the Nigeria, US BNC was held in Washington DC. During her visit in August 2009, Clinton had urged Nigeria to embrace broad political reform and ease tensions that had led to sectarian violence and disrupted oil production in the Niger Delta. Clinton had also during that visit, which included stops in six other African countries, said corruption had undermined the legitimacy of Nigeria's government, and that a culture of corruption and incompetence had hindered Nigeria's ability to grow as an economic power. She had cited a World Bank report that noted that Nigeria had lost more than $300 billion to corruption and mismanagement over the last three decades. This Day could however not confirm whether her upcoming visit would include stops in other African countries, as was the case in 2009.