By Vera Samuel Anyagafu & Prisca Sam-Duru
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, James F. Entwistle has restated US’ strong bond with Nigeria, speaking robustly that Nigeria has no better friend than the United States. He said: “As I told President Jonathan when I arrived in Nigeria in November 2013, and as Secretary Kerry told President Buhari when they met immediately after the presidential inauguration, and as President Obama told President Buhari directly when he received him in the Oval Office at the White House last July, the people of Nigeria have no better friend than the United States.’
Ambassador Entwistle disclosed this at the event marking the 240th Independence anniversary of the US held at the U.S. Consul General’s residence, Lagos, today June 30, 2016. According to Entwistle who will end his diplomatic assignment in Nigeria and retire from the US Foreign service three weeks from today, it was necessary to celebrate the heroism of the 56 men who risked everything including their lives to sign the declaration of the United States independence.
He said, “Stepping forward, signing their names to a public document, was a very brave thing to do. They launched an experiment in self-governance that many—if not most—thought would likely fail. They risked everything—their lives, property, and reputations. As one of the most famous signers of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin, said, “We must all hang together or, assuredly, we will all hang separately.”
Speaking further, he stated that in his country, their commitment to democracy is right there in their declaration of Independence. “Here in Nigeria, you demonstrated to the world your commitment to democracy in historic elections last year. In both of our great countries, commitment to democracy is deeply woven into our status as free and independent peoples; indeed, I often describe our relationship as two great democracies working together to make the world a better place.
The United States has maintained a robust engagement in Nigeria for many years, and our partnership with your great nation runs deep. We’ve worked with the Government of Nigeria on a host of issues—on elections, security, fighting infectious disease, and spurring broad-based, inclusive economic growth, just to name a few. It seems like at least once a week I stumble on some U.S.-Nigerian area of cooperation between academic institutions or civil society groups or businesses that has been going on for decades. It’s truly remarkable.
Continuing, he added “The future of Nigeria belongs to the people of Nigeria. More specifically, it belongs to Nigeria’s heroes—to those men and women who are brave enough to believe that they can change the world. And the United States stands with every Nigerian who believes that this country can be healthier, safer, and more prosperous. “I can’t wait to see what Nigerians will do—and we can do together—for the freedom of all. Not just the political freedom you exercised last year, but freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom from sickness, and freedom from corruption.
“As you fight Boko Haram and secure and rebuild the Northeast, and as you strive for harmony in the Niger Delta and across the land, we will continue to help in every appropriate way.
As you fight corruption, we offer technical assistance, training for investigators and prosecutors, and a commitment to ensure that no stolen funds are laundered through our banking system.”
As you improve the business climate, we encourage expanded trade and investment.
“As you continue privatization of your power grid, through President Obama’s Power Africa initiative we stand ready to, among other things, help companies invest in building more electricity infrastructure, especially environmentally-friendly power generation and as you increase your commitment to healthcare and education, we support those efforts, too. Every step of the way, we will fulfill the commitment our Declaration of Independence made 240 years ago, to treat all of humanity, in peace, as friends. I am here—every American and Nigerian who works at the U.S. Mission in Nigeria is here—because we are committed to that endeavor.”
Ambassador Entwistle also took a moment to honor the memory of a talented young Nigerian, John Paul Usual, who accidentally lost his life in an accident in the US. He was a Mandela Washington Fellow under the auspices of US signature program with Africa—the Young African Leadership Initiative.(YALI) In his remark, Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister, Jeffery Onyenma, who was humble represented by Mrs. Ngozi Okeke said that Nigeria and the US have cordial bilateral relationship.
He said that ‘ “Today the people of Nigeria celebrate not just an ally but a friend and strategic partner, whose immense contribution to our country has transcended into several aspects of our lives. The government of Nigeria acknowledges the significant role of the US government in the strengthening of democracy, promotion of our people ‘s fundamental rights, justice and Peace ”