By Terry Odenigbo
According to US officials, the ongoing insecurity appeared to be responsible for the exclusion of Nigeria in Obama’s second visit to the continent.
Obama is scheduled to visit Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa.
The US government said the trip would focus on trade and investment, democratic institution-building, young people, and enhancing economic growth.
American Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes, made this clarifications at a briefing on Tuesday.
The briefing was addressed jointly with the Senior Director for African Affairs Grant Harris and Senior Director for Development and Democracy Gayle Smith, on Obama’s upcoming visit.
The text of the briefing was made available to journalists in Abuja by the Information Office of the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy.
Rhodes said, “With respect to Nigeria, we certainly believe that Nigeria is a fundamentally important country to the future of Africa. We’ve put a lot of investment in the relationship with Nigeria through their leadership of ECOWAS, through the significant US business investment in Nigeria and through our security cooperation.
“Obviously, Nigeria is working through some very challenging security issues right now. And in that process, they’re going to be a partner of the United States. We certainly believe we’ll have an opportunity to further engage the Nigerian government through bilateral meetings going forward. But at this point, we just were not able to make it to Nigeria on this particular itinerary.
“I will say that we purposefully designed the itineraries to be able to reach West Africa, South Africa and East Africa, and in West Africa, to visit Senegal, a French-speaking, Muslim-majority democracy that is an important partner of the United States and also provides a platform for the President to speak to the broader region.
“We are also looking at ways, at the President’s town hall in South Africa with young African leaders, to draw in through technology young people in Nigeria and in Kenya, among other places, so that the President is using this trip to speak to the broader African audience. We recognize we’d like to go to as many countries as possible.’’