Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ambassador Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye Leads A New Era In Nigeria - U.S. Relations

Photo Courtesy - AMIP News
Interview & Story by Frederick Nnoma-Addison

Washington, DC - Tuesday May 18, 2010. Nigeria's new Ambassador to the United States Ambassador Adebowale Ibibapo Adefuye has stressed his commitment to further improving Nigeria's relations with the United States in an exclusive interview with AMIP News at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, DC.

The soft spoken but highly experienced and savvy Nigerian diplomat reviewed his first months in Washington and outlined his vision for improved U.S. - Nigeria relations and the Nigerian-American community. The former envoy to Jamaica and the United Kingdom also used the opportunity to comment on events that had taken place in Nigeria over the past five months leading to the unfortunate death of President Umaru Yar'Adua and the inauguration of the current President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

"Nigeria is currently peaceful and calm. Since the former President could not hand over before leaving to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment, there was a lot of anxiety from many sources about the future of our country. Many thought the country would plunge into political turmoil and that was a reasonable expectation. Thanks to the Nigerian peoples' commitment to democracy, we were able to transition smoothly into a new leadership and I am extremely confident of the capabilities of the new President.

On the reactions received in the United States after the passing of President Yar'Adua, Ambassador Adefuye expressed gratitude for the solidarity shown by colleague ambassadors, congressmen, government and non-governmental leaders and President Obama who wrote a personal letter of condolence. He added that the embassy had now opened a 2nd book of condolence as a result of the large number of people who have come to offer their condolences. "The large number of people who attended a remembrance service recently held at our embassy is a just one reflection of how people in the international community regard Nigeria."

Speaking on the current state of the Nigerian economy he said "it is on sound footing and there is a drive to now diversify into non oil products in accordance with our vision 20:20:20 which aims at transforming Nigeria into one of the world's leading 20 economies by the year 2020, something that can be achieved under the current leadership." On the more volatile subjects such as the unrest in Jos and the Niger delta he explained that President Goodluck Jonathan was the best man to handle the situation since he hails from the Niger delta himself, is extremely familiar with the history of the crisis and can provide the most effective strategies for a resolution. "Nigerians know their problems and are not ashamed to own or discuss it. The most important thing is that we do have a government in place that is aggressively working to address the challenges facing the nation."

The past two months have been very crucial in reshaping Nigeria-U.S. relations said Ambassador Adefuye, expressing realistic optimism and confidence in a stronger bilateral relationship with the United States. Between March 29th when he presented his letter of credence to President Obama at the White House and now, Nigeria has already been removed from the "country of interest" list, a status that irritated most Nigerians and has signed a bi-national commission agreement with the United States, the highest framework for any two nations to engage each other. Ambassador Adefuye raised the subject of Nigeria's recent status with President Obama during his presentation ceremony at the White House and so he was very grateful to the Obama Administration for their prompt action on this disturbing issue.

"Nigerians are hard working, respectful of law and love life so the foiled airplane bombing attempt by Nigerian native Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab which resulted in Nigeria being put on a country of interest list was most unfortunate" he said. "In fact a few years ago Nigerians were ranked in one survey as the happiest people on earth, Nigerians are typically peaceful to the extent that in some cases even Muslims and Christians intermarry. Nigeria seeks to even lead Africa with a bill to fight terrorism, we have played and continue to play a leadership role in ECOWAS and peacekeeping initiatives in the sub region." Citing all these examples to show that Nigerians are inherently good people."

This bi-national commission agreement is the Obama Administration's first to be signed with any country and Ambassador Adefuye couldn't be more proud. Under this commission the two countries will corporate in areas of democracy and good governance, the fight against corruption, Niger delta security, food security and energy sufficiency.

Within these same past seven weeks, President Obama also had a one-on-one meeting with President Jonathan Goodluck during the Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington, DC in April. The two discussed global security, terrorism, corruption prevention and good governance.

Asked about how Nigerians felt about President Obama’s visit to Ghana instead of Nigeria, he said he believed it was in recognition of Ghana's exemplary democratic governance record as opposed to rebuking Nigeria for not "living up to expectations."

In response to a question about some of his plans as Ambassador to the United States ambassador Adefuye explained that he looks forward to tapping the expertise of Americans and Nigerian Americans at all levels to help with the development of Nigeria. He also emphasized his vision to work to enhance and correct the unfortunate and inaccurate image of "the ugly Nigeria."

In the end Ambassador Adefuye expressed confidence and optimism about his time in Washington saying that he hoped to continue with the momentum he has started with. He also thanked the African Diplomatic Corps for their warm welcome. The Ambassador travels to Nigeria next week to participate in a Bi-National commission meeting in Abuja.

Photo Report

Photo Courtesy - The White House

March 29, 2010
(Above) Ambassador Adefuye Presents Letters of Credence to President Obama

Photo Courtesy -U.S. State Department

April 6, 2010
(Above) Nigerian Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Yayale Ahmed (left) & U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (right) inaugurate the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission, a strategic dialogue designed to expand mutual cooperation across a broad range of shared interests.

Photo Courtesy - AMIP News

April 12, 2010
(Above) President Obama Meets then Acting President Johnathan Goodluck during the Nuclear Security Summit In Washington, DC

Photo Courtesy - AP

April 12, 2010
(Above) President Obama Meets then Acting President Johnathan Goodluck during the Nuclear Security Summit In Washington, DC

Photo Courtesy - AMIP News

April 15
(Above) Adebowale Ibibapo Adefuye, Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S. & Robin Renee Sanders, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria during a Press Briefing at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, DC

Photo Courtesy - AMIP News

May 18, 2010
About Ambassador Adebowale Ibibapo Adefuye

Professor Adefuye is an academic diplomat and a conflict and governance specialist with 22 years experience in international affairs and development, and 12 years of research and teaching experience. Some positions he has held in the past decade include Nigeria's Ambassador to Jamaica, Deputy High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Director, Africa Section - Commonwealth Secretariat, London. He was also the Special Advisor to the Commonwealth Secretary-General on African affairs since 2000 and advisor to ECOWAS President on Democracy and Good Governance since 2008. Ambassador Adefuye holds a PhD in history and was a senior lecturer at the University of Lagos between 1985 and 1987. Ambassador Adefuye is married and hails from Ogun state in southwestern Nigeria.

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