The Nigerian government has praised United States President Joe Biden for returning to the global climate change agenda, even as the American government pledged support for Nigeria’s fight against insecurity.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo gave the commendation on Tuesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, when he received a U.S. government delegation led by White House Deputy National Security Advisor, Jon Finer, who is currently visiting Nigeria.
Former President Donald Trump had pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2017. But earlier this year, Mr Biden restored America’s commitment to the Agreement.
Mr Osinbajo said Nigeria is happy with the development.
“We are happy that the U.S. is fully on board with climate change and back to the table on this issue. One has to commend the drive this U.S. administration has put behind climate change,” he said.
Mr Osinbajo also reiterated Nigeria’s position on transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, ahead of the net-zero emissions 2050 target.
“We are concerned about what has been going on, especially around gas as an effective transition fuel and how many Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and some countries are insisting that gas projects should be defunded.
“This is of principal concern to us. It is one that we have made central to our advocacy and it is one of the issues that we intend to promote at the COP26.
“We have done the costing for it and all of what is required to be able to hit net-zero by 2050. Also, what the implications would be, given the constraints, and how realistic it would be to get to net-zero by 2050 or not.”
Mr Osinbajo said Nigeria looks forward to participating in the Democracy Summit President Joe Biden would be hosting later in the year.
He also thanked the U.S. government for donating over 3.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Nigeria.
Earlier in his remarks, Mr Finer said the U.S. plans to partner with Nigeria on the G-7 Infrastructure Programme – Build Back Better World, which Mr Biden has made a priority.
Mr Finer was accompanied to the event by the American Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, and other U.S. senior government officials.
Earlier on Monday at a media roundtable he held with some Nigerian editors in Abuja, Mr Finer pledged the assistance of the United States to Nigeria in its fight against banditry.
“We’ll provide technical assistance for justice programming, much of which is dedicated to help Nigeria get a turnaround at this time of banditry challenges, and we will continue to provide programmes like that to help the country,” he said.
He said, however, that the Nigerian government also stated that military action is not the only tool it is using to fight insecurity around the country.
Mr Finer said the Biden administration approved of the sale of Super Tucano fighter jets by the Trump administration to Nigeria to support the counterterrorism war in the country.
“We are pleased to be able to deepen our security cooperation with the Nigerian government in this way,” he added in reaction to the controversy around the transaction.
He disabused fears that the Nigerian government may deploy the fighter jets against secessionists in parts of the country. He said Nigeria was aware of the ‘expectations’ of the American government that they would be only for “security use, particularly in the North-east.
“I think we’ve made clear our expectations on how the fighter jets are going to be used. We are confident they will be used in the right way.
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“We have those basic concerns and that is true of all our security partners around the world.”
Specifically on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr Finer said his delegation had discussed the issue with the Nigeria Government and emphasised the need to address the underlying problem that gave birth to the group.
He said discussions between the delegation and Nigerian officials also covered “counterterrorism, maritime and the piracy issue taking place here.”
Mr Finer said there was also conversation on “hopefully deepening economic relationship, democracy and human rights.
“The conversation we had was quite frank about how they are making progress and how we can deepen the cooperation we have in many other areas.”
Also at the roundtable was the American ambassador, Mrs Leonard, and the senior director for Africa at the National Security Council, Dana Banks.