As the world struggles to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has continued to stretch its helping hand towards Nigeria. The USAID recently provided additional development assistance of $234.5 million to Nigeria to aid the health, education and agriculture sectors.
This aid is coming under the 2015 bilateral Development Objectives Assistance Agreement (DOAG) between the US and Nigerian governments. With this new funding, public health and nutrition will receive additional boost of $160 million while $34 million is targeted at improvement of Agriculture and water systems. The education sector will receive $21 million support and $19.5 million will go into strengthening good governance.
The arrival of the current US ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard has been credited for the recent stable and progressive diplomatic relations between the two countries; a reflection of the dynamism and strength of purpose of the Ambassador. Although she has only been in Nigeria for a short while, the Ambassador’s diplomatic experience and knowledge of the African continent is wide and deep.
A Nigerian economy, health and education sectors are taking a direct hit from COVID-19 pandemic, threatening to further mar Nigeria’s position as the giant of Africa. This donation according to experts, therefore, is a timely intervention. To further buttress this fact, Stephen M. Haykin, USAID Mission Director, commented during the notification of this new assistance from the USAID, that “As the most populous country in Africa and with its largest economy, Nigeria has tremendous potentials and holds immense influence over the future of the continent’.
So far, the $234.5 million aid brings the total support from US to Nigeria to stand at $1.8 billion under the 5-year Development Agreement, further strengthening the ties between both countries. In addition, the US has assisted Nigeria in combating COVID-19 with about $32.8 million.
In a separate message to intending Nigerian travelers to and from the US, the Ambassador, Mary Berth Leonard has warned against the purchase of online international airline tickets, considering that international flight restrictions are still in place in Nigeria. The embassy reiterated that it would not accommodate any complaints on cancelled flight tickets.