US Secretary of State, Tillerson Arrives Nigeria Today


By Alex Enumah in Abuja

The United States Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, will arrive Nigeria today as part of his one week tour of some African countries.

He would be received on arrival by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador,  Olukunle Bamgbose, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

His visit will make him the highest ranking official in the Donald Trump’s administration to visit Nigeria.

According to a Press Advisory from the US Embassy, the Secretary would hold talks with President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday.

It is believed that the talks would centre around economic development, humanitarian assistance as well as insecurity.

According to the US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Don Yamamoto, Africa’s propensity for growth in the next century presents both a huge challenge as well as opportunities that must be well harnessed for the betterment of Africa and the world at large.

Speaking in a telephonic press briefing last week, Yamamoto said: “… We ask a lot of good questions about what is Africa going to look like in the year 2100 and beyond? If Africa is going to have a population of about 40 per cent of the world’s population, over 30 per cent of the world’s labour force, but more important is that it’s going to be really hugely youthful. Over 70 per cent, probably, under the age of 25. 

“But more important is the potential for high rates of unemployment if we don’t position ourselves now to look at how we can develop Africa and be a part of that development and really the opportunity. 

“You know, we call Africa the “final frontier” for freedom and opportunity, and really that is the answer. If you look at Africa today, you see so many other countries in the Congo and other places, looking at the rare earth minerals and metals

“The US looks at that, but more important, it looks at how can we help the African states and countries benefit from their own resources? How can the African states and populations continue to grow and develop? And really that’s our main focal point.

Though countries scheduled in Tillerson’s first round of visit include Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Chad, and Nigeria, however Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya are considered crucial to the US. 

“Some of the scenes – let me just tell you – the scenes in these countries are three of the countries that we will be going to house three of the four largest American embassies in Africa. So they are cornerstone, pillar countries, as Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria.

“The other issue, too, is we’re looking at how these countries can play a really predominant role in growth, because they all have about 8-9 per cent economic growth rates.

Other areas of interest to the US that may likely form part of discussion borders around institution building. “We can’t have really robust economic development and addressing the ingenuity, the creativity of the people of Africa, unless we have strong institutions, governance, strong economic institutions that will really ignite and stimulate growth. And of course, human rights is also another important issue,” he said.

Tillerson has been on a week-long tour of Africa. He has visited the horn of Africa just days after he announced a new $533 million aid package for Africa.

He has also raised issues for international debate when last Thursday he advised Africans to be wary of loans received from China, so that they don’t forfeit their sovereignty as a nation.

Tillerson also said that Chinese investments “do not bring significant job creation locally” and criticised how Beijing structured loans to African government.