Governors of all 19 states in northern Nigeria are expected to spend three days in Washington DC next week at the invitation of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).
They will be participating in the Northern Nigeria Governors’ Symposium from October 18 to 21 with civic leaders from the Senior Working Group of Nigeria and representatives of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Organized by the institute with support of U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, the upcoming Symposium is the second such event in as many years.
The first one which held in May 2014 discussed security challenges caused by the Boko Haram insurgency and strategies for stabilization and development in northern Nigeria.
Speaking on Tuesday at the pre-symposium media briefing, USIP Senior Advisors and former ambassadors, Princeton Lyman and Johnnie Carson said the institute’s Northern Governors’ symposium was designed to bolster Nigeria’s commanding stature in Sub-Saharan Africa by addressing causes of instability and seeking opportunities for durable peace in the north.
Describing the country as “a significant powerhouse”, whose position in Africa compares to that of India in Asia and Brazil in South America, Mr. Carson said Nigeria also became “one of the world’s premier democracy” after the epochal election of 2015.
Mr. Lyman, who was U.S. ambassador to Nigeria 1986 to 1989, said Boko Haram insurgency opened “new frontiers for engagement” and opportunity to address the “disconnect between political power and development” in northern Nigeria.
While all 19 governors got invitation to the Symposium, as of last week, only Governors Abdullah Abubakar (Bauchi), Kashim Shettima (Borno and head of the Northern Nigeria Governors Forum), Bello Masari (Katsina), Bako Lalong (Plateau) and Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto) have confirmed their participation.
Minister of the Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, and Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi, have also confirmed their attendance.
The governors and other participants will meet with officials from U.S. government, public agencies and corporate bodies.
USIP’s Senior Program Officer for Nigeria, Oge Onubogu, said the visiting Nigerian governors will also meet with Steve Hayes, chairman of the Corporate Council on Africa and Gayle Smith, USAID director, to discuss project priorities for northern Nigeria.
USIP officials are confident that the upcoming Northern Governors’ Symposium will build on the tangible successes of the first symposium which, according to Ambassador Carson, include the growing confidence of democratic governance as evidenced by the laudable outcome of the 2015 elections and improved governance environment with lessening of the “disconnect between northern governors and the federal government”.