4 January 2013

Nigeria: U.S. - Nigeria Faces Formidable Challenges Consolidating Democratic Order

United States has said that despite the fact that Nigeria conducted successful elections in 2011, the nation faces formidable challenges in consolidating democratic order.

US perception of Nigeria's political situation was made known on Wednesday in the latest US Bilateral Relations Fact Sheets, which replaced the Background Notes series - a collection of works by the State Department highlighting facts about the land, the people, history, government, political conditions, economy, and foreign relations of nations.

The latest Fact Sheets said these "formidable challenges" include terrorist activities, sectarian conflicts and public mistrust of the government.

In the Fact Sheets, US also noted that Nigeria had yet to develop effective measures to address corruption, poverty and ineffective social service systems, and mitigate the violence.

It specifically cited the Nigeria-US Binational Commission-which came into existence in April 2010 - as the platform on which the two countries hold bilateral talks on key areas such as good governance, transparency and integrity, energy and investment; Niger Delta and regional security, and agriculture and food security.

In terms of its assistance to Nigeria, US said it "seeks to help improve the economic stability, security and well-being of Nigerians by strengthening democratic institutions, improving transparency and accountability and professionalising security forces."

Apart from that, the Fact Sheets noted that US assistance to Nigeria also "aims to reinforce local and national systems; build institutional capacity in the provision of health and education services and support improvements in agricultural productivity, job expansion in the rural area and increased supplies of clean energy."

In another development US hinted that the option of designating Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) had not been taken off the table.

Responding to a reporter's question on whether US was closer to designating the sect as an FTO, State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, said: "We'll continue to look at that, as we have for a number of months. I think there's always a question in these circumstances whether that's the most effective way to deal with the organisation.

"As you know, we have named most of the kingpins of Boko Haram in individual sanctions to keep them from being able to benefit from the US economy, et cetera. But there's also a question of whether some of the lower-ranking folk could be split, et cetera. So we're continuing to look at what makes most sense."

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