The United States government believes now is the time for major geopolitical players across the world to start treating Africa as one of them.
U.S. Secretary of State, Mr Antony Blinken, stated this on Friday while addressing members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja.
“United States firmly believes that it is time to start treating Africa as a subject in geopolitics, and structure it as a major geopolitical player it has become – the facts speak for themselves,” he said.
Speaking specifically about Nigeria, the U.S. official highlighted some of the reasons it would not be out of place to call the nation the giant of Africa.
Among several other qualities, he noted Nigeria’s cultural influence, saying people across the world listen to the Afrobeat music genre and watch Nollywood movies. He, however, believes there are areas that require improvements.
”Your strengths are undeniable – a dynamic democracy, a robust economy, and a very powerful civil society. Challenges you face here are undeniable as well, including the disruption and insecurity caused by terrorism,” said Blinken.
“What happens here in Nigeria is felt around the world, and that, in a nutshell, is why I came to Abuja. United States knows that in most of the challenges and opportunities we face, Africa will make a difference.
“We can’t achieve our goals around the world – whether ending the COVID-19 pandemic, building a strong and inclusive global economy, combating the climate crisis… without the leadership of the African governments, institutions, and citizens.
“Countries like Nigeria, not just global leaders, they are increasingly prominent around the world beyond this region, and they are deserving a permanent seat wherever the most consequential issues are discussed.”
The U.S. Secretary of State stressed the need to foster democracy across the African continent and appealed to its leaders to stop interfering with democratic processes.
Alluding to the threats to democracy also in the U.S., he stated that it was important for countries in every part of the world to share best practices.
Blinken also asked them to make public pledges to hold each other accountable, as well as show how democracy can deliver what citizens want quickly and effectively.
He explained that boosting democracy was one of the major reasons why U.S. President Joe Biden would host a democratic summit in December.
“The recession of democracy in many places in Africa cannot be denied, and it is not the will of the people,” the U.S. official decried. “Survey after survey in countries across the continent show that the people of Africa – either Ghanaian, or Zambian, or Ugandan, or Tanzanian – support democracy when given the choice between multi-party elections or strong man rule, one-party state or military control; they choose multi-party elections.
“That makes it more important that leaders show leadership and stop democratic backsliding that is wiping away their citizens’ aspirations. I want to emphasise that democratic backsliding is not just an African problem, it is a global problem.
“My own country is struggling with threats to democracy and the solutions to those threats will come as much from Africa as from anywhere.”