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U.S congressional delegate to Nigeria wraps up visit

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……May have sealed up $593 million war planes, weapons deal

By Josephine Ella-Ejeh

The  eight-member United States Congressional delegation led by Senator Christopher Coons (Democrat-Delaware) to Nigeria  to chart  the way forward  on the  Boko Haram insurgency and  discuss  bilateral trade relations,  is expected to tie up its agenda in the country by Thursday.

Barring any sudden change in plan, Nigeria is expected to have sealed up the deal with the U.S on the sale of 12 Super Tucano A-29 planes and weapons worth $593 million, which the West African country wants for its fight against the militant group Boko Haram.

This is especially as the visit of the delegation is apparently, partially connected with the issue of Boko Haram.

The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency had on Monday,  notified the U.S. Congress  of  a move to  sell  off  the planes and weapons , which included thousands of bombs and rockets which was originally agreed by former President Barack Obama’s administration.

The Obama administration had delayed the deal following incidents including the Nigerian Air Force’s bombing of a refugee camp in January that killed 90 to 170 civilians.

However, President Donald Trump had said he plans to go ahead with foreign defense sales delayed under Obama by human rights concerns.

Senator Coons, who is a member of the Appropriations, Foreign Relations, Judiciary, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Ethics committees, had led the largest U.S. congressional delegation to Nigeria on the 4-day visit, which commenced on August 28 and ends August 31.

The U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria,  had in a statement, listed the delegation to  also includes Senator Gary Peters (D-Michigan); Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado); Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Delaware); Representative Terri Sewell (D-Alabama); Representative Charlie Dent (Republican-Pennsylvania); Representative Barbara Lee (D-California); and Representative Frederica Wilson (D-Florida).

The statement had disclosed that the congressional delegation is visiting Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and The Gambia in addition to Nigeria during their West Africa tour.

“During their stay from Aug. 28 to 31 here, the U.S. legislators will meet with a range of high-ranking leaders to gain a fulsome picture of the bilateral relationship. They will be briefed by Ambassador W. Stuart Symington and staff before meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, other members of the National Assembly, and religious and civil society leaders,” the statement had stated.

According to the statement, “among the issues of particular interest to the U.S. officials will be the fight against Boko Haram and the humanitarian situation in the northeast of Nigeria. They will also visit Lagos, Nigeria’s economic hub where trade and investment relations will be the theme.”

 


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