Nigeria is missing from the list of African countries to be visited by United States Vice President, Kamala Harris, by end of this month as announced by her office. Harris’ scheduled Africa visit makes her the most senior official Joe Biden administration to visit the continent.
It will also be the first time a Black US Vice President is visiting the region, amplifying Harris’ historic role and high-profile trip. The second gentleman Doug Emhoff will join her on the trip.
According to a statement by Harris’ Press Secretary, Kirsten Allen, the scheduled engagement will “strengthen the United States’ partnerships throughout Africa and advance our shared effort on security and economic prosperity.”
She is scheduled to visit Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia in a historic trip, her first visit to the continent since becoming vice president, but will shun Nigeria, often referred to as the giant of Africa because of its population and economic size. The country which is one of America’s important allies in the continent will be missing this history trip, Prime Business Africa gathered.
The official visit comes as Joe Biden’s administration seeks to strengthen bilateral ties with the African countries as competitors like Russia and China have made inroads in the region, CNN reported.
“Throughout the trip, in partnership with African governments and the private sector, the vice president will advance efforts to expand access to the digital economy, support climate adaptation and resilience, and strengthen business ties and investment, including through innovation, entrepreneurship, and the economic empowerment of women,” Allen wrote.
Harris will first visit Ghana, then Tanzania and then end the weeklong trip in Zambia before returning to Washington. The vice president will hold bilateral meetings with presidents from the three countries to discuss “regional and global priorities, including our shared commitment to democracy, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, food security, and the effects of Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine, among other issues.”
Though it is not immediately clear why Harris chose to leave off Nigeria in her Africa trip itinerary, some public affairs analysts believe that it might not be unconnected with the outcome of the just concluded 2023 general elections which witnessed widespread electoral violence, voter intimidation and suppression, among other issues in the country which are inimical to democratic sustainability.
Different international observers, such as the European Union Observation Mission (EUOM), affirmed that Nigeria’s elections were substantially marred by violence.
The United States Mission in Nigeria on Tuesday also affirmed that there were cases of voter suppression and other forms of electoral irregularities as witnessed firsthand by its independent observers in parts of the country during the polls.
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The Mission threatened to impose additional visa restrictions on political actors involved in such activities and also called on the Nigerian authorities to prosecute individuals found to have been involved in it.
Haris’ leaving off Nigeria in her Africa trip itinerary is similar to that of Barack Obama in 2009, 2013, and 2015. During those trips, Obama lauded the democratic achievements of the countries he visited.