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What to expect in the US Secretary of State’s first visit to Nigeria

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will end his week-long trip to Africa on Monday with a visit to Nigeria and Chad.

Tillerson landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last Wednesday for meetings with African Union and Ethiopian officials for the beginning of his trip.

Tillerson canceled his scheduled events Saturday in Kenya because he was sick, Per Second News gathered.

“The secretary is not feeling well after a long couple days working on major issues back home such as North Korea,” U.S. Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein said.

Given the little attention the Trump administration has shown so far to the continent and the lack of new programs or initiatives being launched during this trip, Africa experts are noting that the visit is more of a  listening tour.

Here are the main issues the Secretary of State is expected  to discuss over the four-five hour visit to Nigeria.

‘America first’

For Trump, it is what it says – American interests come first and the United States will treat other nations on a come-as-you-are basis, doing specific deals on specific issues as it sees fit.

That means preserving the global order – built up since World War II based on the United Nations and international law – could be a thing of the past, leaving everyone in uncharted territory.

‘$533 million humanitarian aid’

Barely twenty four hours before the secretary of state left the U.S last Tuesday, he announced a $533 million humanitarian aid to select conflict-affected countries. He  also expressed satisfaction in US programs such as Power Africa,  the African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA.

‘Security’

The U.S is seeking to bolster security alliances especially given that the countries visited are major partners in combating terrorism and extremism.

‘Trade’

China is taking over Africa, and the United States and Africa’s former colonizers in Europe have lost sway. Mr. Tillerson is expected to talk about trade between both countries.

China surpassed the United States to become Africa’s largest trading partner in 2009.

 

Tillerson at the AU
So far, the Trump administration’s relationship with Africa has remained unclear, if not negative with major cuts in the U.S. budget to both aid and diplomacy, threatening important economic and social programs supported by the U.S.

In addition, important diplomatic posts, such as the ambassador to South Africa and the assistant secretary of state for Africa remains vacant. Per Second News reported last month that the Trump administration is likely to name J. Peter Pham the next Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

President Trump’s alleged derogatory remarks about Africa earlier this year have certainly not encouraged African leaders to warm to the administration.

“This administration has lost the enormous ground and influence in Africa, said Johnnie Carson, former U.S Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in Washington recently.

His trip includes visits to Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Nigeria and Chad

 

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