Activists and some media organizations have expressed concern that President of the United States, Barack Obama, will visit Ethiopia but not Nigeria during his Africa trip next month. Many have pointed out that Nigeria just experienced an historic democratic transfer of power while Ethiopia has a deplorable human rights record.
In addition to the recent democratic transfer of power Nigeria plays a crucial role in African security and is the US’s largest trading partner on the continent. The US also announced a 5 million dollar commitment to Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram.
According to Nii Akuetteh, an independent Africa analyst, who spoke with SaharaReporters, people should not see President Obama’s decision as “a huge slap in the face to Nigeria.”
Mr. Akuetteh said that “planning a presidential trip abroad is extremely cumbersome” and “one month is too short notice to prep a major trip like this.” He also said that “many in Washington DC would not admit it but they are happy that [former President] Jonathan is no longer in power” and that Obama would not have planned for a trip to Nigeria if he was in power.
President Obama plans to visit Kenya, the country of his father’s birth, for a global entrepreneurship summit before flying to Ethiopia. It should also be noted that Kenya has an abysmal human rights record, with police death squads and ethnic discrimination against Somali communities routine.
Mr. Akuetteh stated that “as an activist I am not happy when the United States supports dictators or that President Obama is visiting the Ethiopian regime” however “my reading of the trip is that President Obama is going to meet with African Union leaders, which happens to be located in Addis Ababa.”
The White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, said something similar that Obama “will build on the success of the August 2014 U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit by strengthening ties with our African partners and highlighting America’s longstanding commitment to investing in Africa.”
Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, will visit President Obama in mid-July during his first official visit as President to the United States. It is expected that President Obama and President Buhari will discuss security, terrorism, and trade between the two countries.
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