“I am honored,” tweeted Judd Devermont, on Monday evening. Mr Devermont is the special assistant to US President Joseph Biden and senior director for African Affairs in the National Security Council, as he expressed his sentiments on being a part of the Presidential Delegation that will travel to Nigeria in the coming days.
On Monday 22 May, Mr Biden announced a 9-person Presidential Delegation to represent him and America, “to the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Attend the Inauguration of His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu” on 29 May 2023, in Abuja, Nigeria, led by the Marcia Fudge, who is the 18th U.S. Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Her leading the delegation is noteworthy because she is a past Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. She served as a legislator in the U.S. Congress—110th–117th (2007–2021), a period of fourteen years—representing the Democratic Party.
From the US Department of State’s foreign mission, the US Embassy in Nigeria, David Greene, Chargé d’Affaires, will, as the top diplomat of an embassy that was established in the host country in 1960, justifiably be a part of the delegation. Mr Biden pledged to accelerate high-level visits by senior administration officials to Africa at the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit he convened last December.
Another nominee is Sydney Kamlager-Dove, a Congresswoman whose constituency is the 37th District in the State of California. She is also a member of Mr Biden’s Democratic Party.
Appointed on 28 December 2021, is an attorney who Mr Biden appointed, in her current position, to “lead the [US] federal government’s efforts to assist American businesses entering or expanding into international markets, enforce fair trade policies, promote travel and tourism to the United States and U.S. products and services overseas, provide in-depth trade analyses, develop strategies that will shape the future of international trade, and engage in commercial diplomacy across the globe.” This is why Marisa Lago, U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, US Department of Commerce is a laudable pick for Mr Biden.
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US Marine Corps General Michael Langley is the sixth commanding general of the combatant command, US Africa Command, commonly referred to as AFRICOM. He started this position last August. He has the responsibility for all U.S. military operations in Africa and in the maritime waters that surround the continent. Since starting his tenure, he has focused his attention on “face-to-face” engagement,” said AFRICOM’s public affairs. They emphasize that, “We will support African-led efforts to work toward political solutions to costly conflicts, increasing terrorist activity, and humanitarian crises, such as those in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, and the Sahel, and invest in local and international peacebuilding and peacekeeping to prevent new conflicts from emerging.”
For Enoh Ebong, Director, US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), this will not be her first visit to Nigeria. She was there in October 2022 when she was promoting Mr Biden’s new approach—the US Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa—and the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), and Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan.
The US Department of State’s Africa Bureau’s Assistant Secretary of State, Mary Phee, will also join the delegation.
Monde Muyangwa, who was appointed by Mr Biden to be the assistant administrator for the Bureau for Africa at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and has decades-long experience in US-Africa relations, will be a valuable complement to the delegation.
“The U.S. is the largest foreign investor in Nigeria, with U.S. foreign direct investment concentrated largely in the petroleum/mining and wholesale trade sectors. At $2.2 billion in 2017, Nigeria is the second largest U.S. export destination in Sub-Saharan Africa,” according to the State Department.
Pearl Matibe is a Washington, DC-based foreign correspondent, and media commentator with expertise on U.S. foreign policy and international security. You may follow her on Twitter: @PearlMatibe
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