Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent trip to Washington, the United States has pledged to help Nigeria recover over $480 million of stolen assets stashed away in foreign coffers during the infamous General Sani Abacha’s government; and to also up military assistance at combating insurgency across the country.
Nigeria’s relationship with the US hit the rocks under former President Goodluck Jonathan, whom the US saw as being too lax with checking human rights abuses and uprooting corruption from the country.
“President (Barack Obama) has long seen Nigeria as arguably the most important strategic country in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Tony Blinken, US deputy secretary of state. “The question is would there be an opportunity to deepen our engagement and that opportunity is now.”
Another senior US official also reiterated his country’s support to help Nigeria with crushing Boko Haram militants, and maintained the US is still open to training the Nigerian military to extirpate Boko Haram which recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
Although President Buhari is keen on recovering billions of dollars looted from Nigeria, Washington reportedly promised some help but advised him to look into alternative ways of tackling the Boko Haram menace.
“Nigeria is the most important country in Africa,” said Johnnie Carson, a former assistant secretary of state and currently an adviser to the US institute of peace. “Now more than ever, the relationship with Nigeria should not rest essentially on a security and military-to-military relationship.”
Meanwhile, an African specialist with a non-partisan congressional research service, Lauren Ploch Blanchard, encouraged the US to give Buhari more time to settle down while also providing him with all support necessary to make his government a success.