US Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Beth Leonard has highlighted seven areas where the US and Nigeria can improve collaboration.
The areas are health, education, climate change, space exploration, security cooperation, humanitarian assistance and cultural preservation, he said.
She highlighted this in an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES to mark the end of her tenure as ambassador to Nigeria.
Ms. Leonard described the 60-year relationship between the two countries as one that is always looking to improve.
“To think about how we do it better, it’s a matter of where we intervene and then what is the next step we need to do,” he said.
On health, Ms. Leonard noted that the next step for US support to Nigeria is to make such support a better or more predictable part of health systems and health systems delivery. from Nigeria.
Furthermore, “since we are very close to controlling the epidemic, how do we go about finding those last few people? What is the strategy you need to find the people you haven’t managed to meet yet? she said.
On humanitarian assistance in the Northeast and Northwest, regions affected by terrorism, he called for reflection on how to transform all assistance into a sustainable future for all.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), $1.3 billion is needed to provide life-saving assistance to six million people in north-eastern Nigeria.
This is an increase of 500,000 people from the 5.5 million people identified for assistance in 2022.
Of the $1.3 billion needed, $631 million is urgently needed for an emergency response to the 2.4 million people in urgent need, the UN agency said.
As for cultural preservation, the Smithsonian and other Western institutions have recently begun repatriating stolen artifacts to Nigeria. Ms Leonard said it is “wonderful to have them at home”, however, “we need to collaborate, how should they be cured? How can they be used as a mechanism to bring together museums, citizens and artists to examine a wonderful cultural heritage?
On the Nigerian visa application, the diplomat said she knows that many students will appreciate a reduced waiting time for their visas; something the United States will continue to strive for. She said that she is proud that Nigeria is the largest source of African students in the United States.
As for security cooperation, he said Nigeria and the US have “a strong partnership that includes, for example, the recent sale of the A29 Super Tucanos.”
“So as we move forward and think about other platforms, how do we bolster effectiveness and accuracy and make sure citizens are safe,” he said.
Speaking on space exploration, Ms. Leonard said: “Nigeria at the African leaders summit signed the Artemis accords, which has to do with space; So, in the future, how do we organize responsible civilian space exploration?
On the climate crisis, he recalled that the United States government provided financial support in response to the recent floods in Nigeria. However, going forward, it is important to figure out how to balance climate concerns and address them with the importance of Nigeria’s own energy needs, for example access to electricity, she said.
“So my time is coming to an end here, but in all these things I will be watching to see how that evolution continues,” he said.