President Goodluck Jonathan has back-pedaled on an earlier decision to shy away from meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who was expected to reprimand him for his inability to tackle the worsening Boko Haram insurgency in the country, against
which President Jonathan seems to have run out of options.
US State Department sources told our sources that when Clinton meets with Jonathan in Abuja tomorrow, Thursday, the worsening insecurity, especially terrorism, and corruption, which have emerged as the main obstacles to Nigeria’s development, will be on the front burner. Mrs. Clinton will in no uncertain language tell Mr. President that he has until the end of the year to curb the Boko Haram menace else the US would designate the group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), with all the attendant dire consequences for Nigeria.
Although Nigerian government officials tried to dismiss speculations that Clinton had earlier sidelined Nigeria in what ostensibly may be the last African trip of the rock star diplomat, State Department sources told Huhuonline.com that the Nigerian embassy in Washington DC pulled out all the stops to secure the one-day meeting between Jonathan and Clinton to forestall what was becoming an international embarrassment to Abuja authorities.
The sources explained that the US conceded to the last gasp meeting on the request of Mrs. Clinton who also wanted to personally exchange notes with Nigerian officials on the way forward for the Nigeria-US Bi-National Commission (BNC) accord which she personally signed two years ago.
Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States, Prof. Ade Adefuye, who arrived Abuja in preparation for the visit, explained yesterday that Clinton’s visit to Africa, which started last week had a stop in the country as a priority, but explained that it was the long-given commitment of Jonathan to honor an invitation from Jamaica that prevented a Clinton stop in Nigeria and meeting with the President on August 2 2012.
According to Adefuye, Washington had wanted a meeting with the President and other top officials for last Thursday, but the Jamaican government had long wanted Dr. Jonathan at its National Day. He said considering the Federal Government’s commitment to Africans in Diaspora, that date, which was earlier secured before the Clinton trip, had to be honored by the President.
He added that based on the effective working relationship between the U.S. government and the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC, the new date for Clinton’s one-day visit has now been mutually agreed to. During Clinton’s meeting with Jonathan and National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, Boko Haram is expected to come up. She would also hold talks with the EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde. There are also plans for her to meet Chief Justice Alooma Mukthar.
Confirming that Republicans in the US Congress are planning to force an FTO designation on Boko Haram, Adefuye said the Nigerian embassy was fighting hard to prevent such a move that would subject Nigerian diplomats and government officials to more stringent and humiliating intrusive searches at airports in the USA and across the globe.
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