US-Nigeria: 'blood brothers': Nigeria and the US move closer, as Washington signs its first major binational agreement with an African country in decades. Tom Nevin takes a closer look at the agreement.

Author:Nevin, Tom
Position:AFRICA AND THE WORLD
 
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The US and Nigeria have concluded what is being regarded on both sides of the Atlantic as a 'blood brotherhood' pact that ties the two countries to close cooperation in a binational commission agreement.

In a high-level signing in New York in April, America's first major binational agreement with an African country in decades, the US and Nigeria will from now on cooperate closely on such issues as trade and energy, the Niger Delta, electoral reform, and peace and security. Most significantly, the occasion included an invitation to Nigeria's Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, to attend--as US President Barack Obama's special guest--the nuclear security summit in mid-April.

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The invitation is noteworthy in light of Nigeria's struggle to adequately electrify for its industrial development and its somewhat ponderous exploration of nuclear energy in a void of reliable and sufficient electricity generation options. The US is no stranger to nuclear power installation in Africa. US energy corporation Westinghouse is a partner in South Africa's Pebble Bed project and is a contender for providing capacity for South Africa's now stalled second-generation nuclear facility. American companies are also consultants of record in Nigeria's earlier exploration of the nuclear power route, and are active in other African countries testing the waters of powering the country through atomic energy.

Rare blip on US-Nigeria radar

The momentous US-Nigeria Commission agreement was signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Yayale, and for the US by Secretary of State, Senator Hillary Clinton.

It followed barely a week after the US scrapped its classification of Nigeria as "a country of interest" in the wake of a failed bombing last December of an American Northwest Airlines passenger jet, allegedly by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

The attempted sabotage was a rare blip on the otherwise clear radar of US-Nigerian rapprochement. Nigeria is now the US's biggest supplier of crude after Canada and Saudi Arabia. More worrying static appeared with the exclusion of Nigeria by Obama on his African whistle-stop swing through Africa following his presidential victory. In a reference to the political crisis in Nigeria over the extended illness-related absence of President Umaru Yar'Adua, Clinton paid tribute to the resilience of the country's leadership. "I know first-hand that Nigerians are strong, determined...

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