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Presidency explains what US removal of Nigeria from religious violators’ list means

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The Presidency has said that the removal of Nigeria from the religious violators’ watchlist by the United States Government in the run-up to the visit of its Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, is a triumph of diplomacy and sagacity over hate-driven foreign policy, itself founded on false propaganda.

Blinken had said that the decision of the Joe Biden administration to remove Nigeria from the list was based on facts.

According to NAN, the disclosure was contained in a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Friday, where he said that President Muhammadu Buhari is truly satisfied with the decision by the United States to remove Nigeria from that unwanted list of countries.

What the Presidential Media Aide is saying

The statement from Shehu reads, “In expressing the country’s appreciation for this, the President noted that there is freedom of worship in Nigeria, and no one is discriminated against on the basis of his or her faith.

Since Nigeria was included in December 2020, in the aftermath of the Donald Trump’s election loss, it has taken only 11 months for this decision to be reversed under the Biden administration.

This sad and uncalled for ban came on the heels of 12 months of lies by some extremist groups and the banned terrorist group the Independent People of Biafra’s (IPOB) well-funded international media campaign.

Nigeria should never have been on the list. It was included after paid right-wing American lobbyists were funded millions of dollars by IPOB to spread falsehoods and misinformation about Nigeria. Those who willingly took money from terrorists spread falsehoods against a democratically elected government. They took advantage of well-meaning, God-fearing Americans to whom they spread their lies.

‘’Their aim was to drive a wedge for political advantage between the two great religions and by doing so, make true their fake claims that Muslims and Christians cannot live side-by-side in love and peace. They did not care if their maliciousness was the cause of religious tension. In fact, it is possible they sought to encourage it to prove their point.  Yet, despite all the funds at their disposal, they only convinced for a brief time those who had been voted out of office by US citizens to add Nigeria to the list.

“It is a fallacy to suggest Nigeria lacks religious freedom. A visit to any city will see a surfeit of posters for religious groups, for Muslims and Christians alike. As Nigerians, we wear our faith on our sleeves.

“Nigeria is one of the most religious nations in the world – nearly equally balanced between Muslims and Christians. It is well-known that the President counts amongst his personal friends many global Christian leaders, though he himself is Muslim; our Vice President is an Evangelical pastor; our cabinet is equally balanced between Christians and Muslims.

“This is not to say there are no tensions. The President and all who serve in his administration know there are. And they are being addressed; for instance, the present administration is the only government since independence to introduce a plan to address farmer-herder clashes. Today that plan is working. Many states are taking the lead in its implementation because they, not the Federal Government control land.

“What we said at the time of the listing remains true that the government under President Muhammadu Buhari is run in accordance with our constitution. The losses of life and threats to the lives of our civilian populations from communal and inter-communal violence, banditry and terrorism are of great concern to the administration. It is, therefore, incorrect for anyone to assume the position that the government is doing nothing to address these intertwined threats.

“This administration has successfully dispossessed terrorists in the Northeast, of all land and territory that they held; forcing them into hiding out amongst remote forests and across borders and they are being fought in those locations.

“To address the cases of violence against the civilian population in the face of the harsh odds imposed by the COVID economy, this administration just recently recruited 10,000 new constables. All arms of the Military and paramilitary agencies have been authorised to recruit additional men. The procurement of military hardware has been intensified.

‘”With this egregious listing removed, US-Nigeria relations is now reset, and we can jointly seek resolution to other critical matters – including the fight against terrorists across the Sahel region. This task was complicated by the now reversed decision. To that end, the present administration looks forward to working with the Biden administration on matters, bilateral and multilateral that are important to our friendly states.

“President Buhari is satisfied with the decision by the United States to remove Nigeria from a list of countries deemed lacking religious freedom– placed there by a previous US administration no longer in office.”

What you should know

  • Nairametrics reported earlier that the United States Government excluded Nigeria from its list of religious violators just as it has blacklisted China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and 7 other nations as countries of particular concern for engaging in or tolerating systemic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom.
  • Nigeria, which was placed on the list of religious violators in 2020 by the US for engaging and tolerating the severe violation of religious freedom, was missing in the new list of countries designated in 2021 for religious violations.
  • The federal government had yesterday praised America’s removal of Nigeria from its list of religious violators, stating that it is committed to promoting religious harmony in the nation.
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