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Hillary Clinton improves ties with Nigeria, one of America's largest oil suppliers

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to improve relations with Nigeria, one of the largest oil suppliers to the United States of America, during her trip to seven African nations.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to improve relations with Nigeria, one of the largest oil suppliers to the United States of America, during her trip to seven African nations. | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to improve ties with Nigeria, one of the largest oil suppliers of the United States in Africa, during her eleven-day trip through seven African nations.

America's links to Nigeria are important. According to the Washington-based Energy Information Administration, Nigeria is the fifth-largest oil supplier to the United States.

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"Nigeria is at a crossroads," Clinton said in The New York Times Aug. 12.

According to a news report by the British Guardian newspaper Aug. 13, Clinton told an audience of civil activists in Nigeria's capital Abuja that the country's election system was flawed and "lack of transparency and accountability has eroded the legitimacy of the government and contributed to the rise of groups that embrace violence and reject the authority of the state."

"We strongly support and encourage the government of Nigeria's efforts to increase transparency, reduce corruption, and provide support for democratic processes in preparation for the 2011 elections," Clinton said at a talk with Nigerian Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe Aug. 12, according to the Web site of the U.S. State Department.

According to the Berlin-based international non-governmental organization Transparency International, Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

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For example, the flow of oil is regularly shut down in Nigeria due to pipeline attacks.

The Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 11 that a natural gas pipeline serving a plant operated by Royal Dutch Shell PLC was attacked by locals in the Niger Delta.

Nigeria has lost around $47 billion in revenue from oil company Shell since 2006 due to output cuts caused by rebel attacks, according to an online news report by Ghana Business News July 29.

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua came to office in 2007. However, the election was condemned as flawed by local and international observers.

According to a report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace released in June, Nigeria's dependence on oil accounting for 90 percent of exports and three-fourths of government revenues exposed the country to the global financial crisis, as oil prices dropped significantly.

Violence in the oil-producing Niger Delta region added additional problems by slowing the country's oil production down, leading to losses of about $25 million a day in the last two weeks of May, it says in the report done by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The Washington-based think tank expects that oil revenues will drop sharply from 21 percent of GDP in 2008 to 12.4 percent in 2009.

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Clinton said in The New York Times Aug. 12 that the Nigerian defense minister asked her on Wednesday for American military help to fight the remaining rebels in the oil-producing areas. The American government would look closely at the request, Clinton said, according to The New York Times.

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