By G9ija

As Nigeria marks 60 years of independence, the United States Ambassador, Mary Beth Leonard, has recounted milestones that have been achieved during the six decades of diplomatic relations between her country and Nigeria.

Citing the recent governorship election in Edo State as evidence of progress, Leonard said that efforts to strengthen the diplomatic relations between the two nations were focused on boosting security and reinforcing democracy, especially in relation to achieving enhanced credibility for elections.

She lauded the measures put in place by the Federal Government and adopted by its citizens to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Leonard disclosed that the United States had provided assistance worth over $8 billion to Nigeria within the past two decades.

“Over the past 20 years, the United States has invested $8.1 billion in foreign assistance in Nigeria, including more than $5.3 billion in health assistance. In 2020, we provided more than $57 million in health assistance for the COVID-19 response, including US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, epidemiological COVID detection surveys, and technical assistance and service plans,” she said.

According to her, the US has also delivered 200 ventilators to Nigeria, following a conversation between President Donald Trump and President Muhammadu Buhari.

Expressing joy over Nigeria’s recent polio-free status, the US ambassador commended President Buhari’s emergency plan for AIDS relief, stating that they had provided HIV treatment for over one million Nigerians through the plan.

In terms of trade, she stated that the two-way trade mission between both countries had expanded tremendously, with the US Commercial Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, and an official from the US International Development Finance Corporation joining forces to boost the economies of both nations.

“We have benefited from the positive role Nigerians in America have played, just as we look back with pride on how our 60 years of diplomatic relations have blossomed to support a broad array of mutual priorities, ranging from agricultural productivity and entrepreneurial knowledge to strengthening the rule of law across the 36 states of Nigeria.

“Three American presidents from both major political parties have officially visited Nigeria, while five Nigerian presidents from different parties have officially visited the United States. We look forward with hope, optimism, and anticipation to ensuing decades of growth in our partnership, and to the leadership that Nigeria will continue to play in advancing a more secure and prosperous Sub-Saharan Africa,” she said.