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Several delegations from World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) visited Nigeria during the year. The IMF established a monitoring program at the Central Bank and finance ministry and in July 2000 agreed to a U.S. $1 billion standby credit facility. In May, theWorld Bank approved three new projects totaling U.S. $75 million, the first since 1993, to assist in the provision of universal basic education and to strengthen management of the economy, including measures aimed at increasing its transparency.

European Union and its Member States

The British government gave significant assistance to the new Nigerian government, emphasizing the restructuring of the military, tackling corruption, and economic reform (leading to debt relief) in its bilateral relations. Secretary of State for International Development Clare Short visited Nigeria in March and committed £15 million (U.S.$21 million) on development assistance to Nigeria in 2000/2001 and £25 million for 2001/2002. British Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain visited Nigeria in January, and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in June. Both Hain and High Commissioner Graham Burton (in a November 1999 speech) emphasized that democratic dialogue was the only way to resolve the Niger Delta crisis. President Obasanjo visited France in February and the U.K. in September 2000.

In September 1999, the French ambassador to Nigeria, speaking for the E.U., pledged a U.S.$40 million grant to Nigeria for 1999 and a further $30 million for 2000, a large part of which would be plowed into projects in the Niger Delta. Human rights-related assistance focused on strengthening civil society capacity, judicial and prison reform, rebuilding the trade union movement, and independent media.

United States

In August 2000, President Clinton became the second U.S. head of state to visit Nigeria. He pledged support for efforts to recover public funds looted during the Abacha era and for debt relief, and assistance to fight HIV/AIDS. He also called on the Nigerian government to increase oil production in an effort to lower world oil prices. Clinton did not publicly raise human rights concerns. The Export-Import Bank signed a deal for U.S.$1.2 billion in loan guarantees, and Clinton announced that Nigerian exports would be eligible for duty-free treatment under the GSP (generalized system of preferences) program.

Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI), a Virginia-based private security company, advised the U.S. government on reprofessionalization of the Nigerian armed forces, and a U.S. military team was based in Nigeria for most of the year. Defense Secretary William Cohen visited Nigeria in April 2000, and announced a U.S.$10.6 million military aid package, including funds to refurbish aircraft and train pilots. Nigeria participated with five other African countries in the U.S. West Africa Training Cruise in November 1999, allowing Nigerian naval officers to take part in various training exercises. In August, several hundred U.S. special operations forces began training and equipping five Nigerian battalions for peacekeeping work in Sierra Leone.

Secretary of State Albright visited Nigeria in October 1999 and urged Nigeria to complete the political reforms necessary to underpin the restoration of civilian rule, including repeal of repressive laws, strengthening of the judiciary, and consolidation of civilian control over the military. She endorsed efforts to investigate and prosecute past abuses, and stressed the U.S. desire to see solutions to the crisis in the delta based on the rule of law, not the use of force. Albright also pledged to "work with Congress" to triple or quadruple U.S. aid to Nigeria. U.S. aid for the year increased from the previous U.S.$7 million channeled through NGOs to U.S.$170 million, involving twenty-four U.S. government agencies. In January, Albright singled out Nigeria's transition program as one of four critical U.S. foreign policy issues in the coming year. Several other high-level U.S. officials visited Nigeria during the year.

Although Nigeria in March was deemed not to be in compliance with requirements for counter-narcotics certification under Section 481 of the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA), the administration issued a national interest waiver for the second year, thus allowing the U.S. to support assistance to Nigeria in six multilateral development banks and to restore FAA and Arms Control Export Act assistance to Nigeria. A five-year ban on flights between Nigeria and the U.S. was lifted in December 1999, and direct flights to Nigeria were scheduled to resume in October 2000.

The U.S. also launched an initiative to promote democratic governance and economic development in the Niger Delta by promoting dialogue among the U.S. and Nigerian governments, residents of the delta, and U.S. oil companies.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2000

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