Message from the Chairman
Nigeria just completed its sixth national election since the return to civilian rule in 1999. The administration of the election was not perfect, and turnout — estimated at 40 percent — was disappointing, but Nigerians can be proud of their role in consolidating the country’s institutions in Africa’s largest democracy. Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared President Buhari the victor, a result confirmed by a youth-led coalition of Nigerian civil society, which carried out a Parallel Vote Tabulation during the February 23 election.
President Buhari has a huge task before him as he looks to a second term in office. Security challenges, including the Boko Haram insurgency in the country’s northeast, conflict in Nigeria’s middle belt, where fighting between pastoralists and farmers has resulted in over 1,000 deaths in the past year, and a resurgence of unrest in the Niger Delta require both immediate action and a hard look at reforming Nigeria’s security sector. Better training, more effective command and control and respect for human rights are essential elements of a reformed Nigerian army that can address challenges in multiple theaters of operation while instilling confidence in the civilian population in the affected areas. On the economy, a second Buhari administration must address widespread poverty and unemployment, particularly among Nigeria’s youth, while carrying out reforms in the critically-important oil sector, including standing up the new institutions called for in the Petroleum Industries Governance Bill. President Buhari’s appointments in his second term will be a key indicator of his priorities, and I hope he will populate his administration with ministers and senior officials who understand that the private sector must be the driver of economic growth and poverty-reduction.
For its part, the U.S. Nigeria Council (USNC) stands ready to play its role in the most important and dynamic economy on the African continent. As a convener, clearinghouse and catalyst for investment into Nigeria, the USNC will continue to promote expanded commercial ties between the United States and Nigeria.
Regionally in-tune, the Council’s work actively supports Nigeria’s national strategy for economic prosperity and US commercial diplomacy. With the support of key Nigerian political and economic institutions including the Nigerian Sovereign Trust Fund, the Council helps to advance critical trade and investment initiatives by maximizing industrial free trade zones, diversifying exports, integrating agro-investments into global supply chains, and matching energy development to production needs.