The United States Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has said that scheduling challenges made her trip to Nigeria very short.
Clinton, who has just ended a 10-day trip across West, East and South Africa, spent about three hours in discussions with Nigerian authorities while she spent at least a full working day in other countries.
While addressing staff of the US Embassy in Abuja on Friday, Clinton said that though the visit was short, it was an important one that shows the "vital relationship" between the two countries which the Embassy staff help to nurture.
Her visit to Nigeria was still doubtful when her office released her travel plan without Nigeria included though there had been expectations that Nigeria was part of the original travel plan but was omitted at the last minute.
Sources at US State Department at Washington DC and US Embassy in Abuja told LEADERSHIP that Clinton was billed to visit Nigeria last Thursday but the absence of President Goodluck Jonathan, who was then visiting the Caribbean, made her shelve that plan.
An official US Embassy statement made available to LEADERSHIP last Thursday, August 2, read "A visit in Nigeria by U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is still possible depending on logistics."
It was gathered that her visit to Nigeria was moved to the end of her trip so that she can briefly stop over in Nigeria en route the funeral of President Atta Mills of Ghana on Friday, August 10.
While addressing the US Embassy in Abuja, Clinton condoled with the families of "friends and colleagues that were lost in the [Dana] airplane crash two months ago. And I want to express my personal condolences to the families of Anthony Okara and the five Nigerians who worked for our local partner organizations."
She said that Nigeria has made progress since the last time she visited three years ago.
Clinton said, "We've seen elections that were free and fair, a government working to institute transparency and reform, admirable leadership in regional and global affairs. And at the same time, we know Nigeria is facing serious threats from extremism. But through every one of these issues and many, many more, you have provided invaluable assistance to the Nigerian people."
Also, while addressing the media after discussions with Nigerian authorities, Clinton said the US is committed to a strong partnership with Nigeria.
She said, "We consider it absolutely vital, and through our bi-national commission, which, as you mentioned, has helped us to expand and deepen our cooperation on a full range of issues, we are working on economic matters, the improvement and the productivity of agriculture, education and health, security, the diversification of your economy, and so much more."
The US Secretary of State promised that the US is determined to help Nigerian government to provide better opportunities for all Nigerians - north, south, east, west - every young boy and girl to have a chance to fulfil his or her God-given potential."