Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Clinton presses Nigeria on corruption

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is visiting Nigeria, and is asking the nation's government to reduce corruption. The U.S. would like to buy more oil from Nigeria to reduce the amount it depends on from the Middle East. However, armed conflict between rebels and the government has disrupted oil production there. Many people are upset that the government pockets all the money from oil, instead of using the money to improve services in the country.

From this Associated Press article that we found at The Sun News, reporter Matthew Lee recorded Clinton's statement.

"It is critical for the people of Nigeria, first and foremost, but indeed for the United States that Nigeria succeeds in fulfilling its promise," Clinton told a news conference after meeting Nigerian Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe.

"We strongly support and encourage the government of Nigeria's efforts to increase transparency, reduce corruption (and) provide support for democratic processes in preparation for the 2011 elections," she said.

U.S. officials regard Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, as a bellwether for the continent's success and have expressed deep concern about the coup-prone country's political situation, especially after 2007 elections that were marred by fraud.

Maduekwe said there was a "national consensus on issues of enhanced democracy, a deep commitment to rule of law and electoral reforms" and pledged that President Umaru Yar'Adua's government would deliver on reform.

Nigeria is the fifth largest supplier of oil to the United States and U.S. officials are also troubled by unrest and kidnappings in the Niger Delta, where indigenous groups have complained vehemently about exploitation of oil reserves by foreign petroleum companies.

Violence in the region has led to cuts in production that in June led to Angola surpassing Nigeria in monthly oil production.

To deal with the situation, Yar'Adua has offered militants in the Niger Delta amnesty if they turn in their arms, register and take part in reintegration programs.

Maduekwe said the offer, which took effect earlier this month, was the result of a realization that a new method had to be used to deal with the unrest, which the government had previously tried to quell with military force.

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