US cooperation with Nigeria now 'a question mark'

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. Photo by: Remy Steinegger / World Economic Forum / CC BY-NC-SA

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to pardon a former government official charged with money laundering in 2005 has led one of its top donors to review its relations with the African country, which could include development cooperation.

Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, a former deputy governor in Nigeria’s Bayelsa state, was among the eight people Jonathan pardoned last week, a move that has sparked a lot of criticism among Nigerians. The act makes Alamieyeseigha eligible to run for public office again.

The United States has expressed “deep” disappointment over the decision, arguing that this provides “a setback for the fight against corruption” in the country. The Western donor is now looking at “appropriate” steps following the decision.

“We have made clear to the Nigerians that this puts a question mark on the kinds of work that we’ve been trying to do with them,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a press briefing Friday (March 15).

The Nigerian government has released a statement saying the decision was “entirely consistent with the provisions of the Nigerian constitution.”

The United Kingdom, whose aid to Nigeria in 2012 amounted to 162 million pounds ($245 million), has yet to make a comment on the issue. No U.K. aid goes to the Nigerian government, according to the U.K. Department for International Development’s 2011-2015 operational plan for the country. Among the reasons: ”to protect against corruption.”

The United States plans to spend about $600M in foreign aid to Nigeria this year. The bulk of it on health.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.