US backs Buhari on economic diversification

Pledges to increase investment in Nigeria, fast-track returns of stolen money

United States of America, on Tuesday, said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts in diversifying Nigeria’s economy would make the nation’s export more attractive to America and the rest of world.

Peter Barlerin, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Economic and Regional Affairs, West Africa, disclosed this at a news conference in Abuja.

He said the US was considering increasing direct investment in Nigeria.

Barlerin said that the commencement of Shale oil and gas production in the US in the last 10 years, had changed America’s economy and no longer a major importer of oil especially from Nigeria.

“It (the revolution) impacted on the oil export from Nigeria. I think this gives an opportunity to Nigeria to diversify the economic and deep our economic relationship in other ways,” he said.

Barlerin, who noted that the decline in oil price had significantly impacted on Nigeria’s economy, just like any other country, commended Buhari’s efforts in trying to improve the economic condition.

“We believe that such efforts would be helpful to the economy because it will make Nigeria export more attractive to the region, the US and the rest of world.

“A number of sectors in Nigeria are promising; there are lots of promising exports potentials in services industry, fashion, agriculture and other sectors,” he said.

The envoy said that US would try to increase two-way trade and investments with Nigeria to deep the trade relations between the two countries.

“So, if we have a high level of trade here, we want to increase both US export to Nigeria and US import from Nigeria, so that we can have two-way trade. Also, we think that increasing US direct investment into Nigeria is very important.

“I think Buhari’s efforts to improve easy doing of business in Nigeria is very important.”

According to him, Nigeria is one of the most important countries for the US in sub-Sahara Africa.

He said that US and Nigeria had good relationship which would be made stronger and vibrant.

“In terms of overall US\Africa policy, President Obama strategies have been to increase peace and security in the sub-Sahara Africa,” he said.

Meanwhile, the United States of America has said that it is committed to assist Nigeria in fast-tracking the process of bringing back the country’s stolen money.

Speaking during an interactive session with reporters, on Tuesday, US Special Representative to Muslim Communities, Shaarik Zafar, declared US’s intention to assist Nigeria to repatriate its funds stashed abroad by corrupt public officeholders and politicians.

Zafar added that he was optimistic that the current fight against corruption in Nigeria would succeed.

His words:  “before the stolen money could be brought back to Nigeria, certain legal procedures needed to be followed and that is what the US government is facilitating currently.”

According to him, if corruption could be effectively tackled, the country would witness socio-economic growth and development.

“Nigeria’s success is America’s success; hence, our decision to work with government, civil society organisations and religious groups on areas to prevent corruption.

“I have a global mandate. So, I will encourage a continued focus by religious leaders on the critical challenge of combating corruption.”