How Buhari normalised strained U.S.-Nigeria ties, by ex-envoy Hassan

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RETIRED Nigeria’s Ambassador in Washington D.C., United States (U.S.) Hassan Hassan has explained that the excellent goodwill of President Muhammadu Buhari normalised the strained relations between Nigeria and the U.S.

Hassan stated this at a dinner organised for him on Saturday by officers of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC at the residence of the Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States, retired Justice Sylvanus Nsofor.

This is just as Nigerians In Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) U.S.A. chapter also organised a “farewell happy hour” for Hassan in appreciation of “his selfless service, patriotism and commitment to the welfare of Nigerians in the United States”.

In his remarks at the events, Hassan said: “Prior to the coming of President Buhari, there were some things that were not moving on as expected between Nigeria and the U.S.

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“Buhari came with an excellent goodwill and that also impacted on our performance because we had it easy with the U.S. government and they were always ready to listen to us. With these, we were able to initiate so many things and we got so many things done.

“What I’ve come to understand about them is they never give you the second chance to make the first impression. So, when you’re dealing with the U.S., you have to be straight-forward and you have to know what you want.

“You don’t go to them with ambiguity and the government of President Buhari is not found wanting as far as I can perceive. Those are what the U.S. expect from a country. We are very straight-forward and we come to them with our cards on the table.”

Hassan noted that the Nigeria-U.S. Bi-National Commission – which is the umbrella under which the relations between the two countries are being followed up biennially, but which was suspended by a year during the period of the strained relations between the two countries – was resumed.

“We had a resumed session after it was suspended for one year. We had it in 2017 in Nigeria and there will be another one in February 2020. So, the impetus and the vigour with which Nigeria and the U.S. are pursuing their areas of interests and pursuing their mutual relations is quite impressive.”

The retired diplomat, who served in Washington DC, London, Syria, Pakistan and the United Nations, explained that the U.S. was a very strategic partner to Nigeria, saying the U.S. government is very powerful.

“Washington D.C., to me, is the administrative capital of the world. Being here has been very challenging and educative and I believe we lived up to expectations. I am proud we left the Nigerian embassy better than we met it,” he said.

The retired diplomat, who was among the 25 ambassadors that recently retired, said he started his diplomatic career in January 1984 when Buhari was an Army General as Head of State and retired 36 years after when he is now a democratically-elected president.

He denounced the mistaken belief that diplomats are people sent to tell lies about their countries, saying “that’s not true at all because diplomats are the crafters of dialogue, agreements and they are the link thread between nations”.

Earlier, Nsofor, the Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S., praised Hassan for the excellent working relations with him and other officers at the embassy, saying: “We are here to bid you farewell because we part here to meet again”.

The Consul-General of Nigeria in New York Mr. Benayaogha Okoyen and Consul-General of Nigerian Consulate in Atlanta, Mrs. Aishatu Musa and staff members at the Nigerian Embassy as well as Nigerian community members in the United States all took turns at the sendoffs to praise Hassan, who they describe as a brilliant and firm diplomat.

Similarly, Ms. Patience Key, Chairman of NIDO USA, described Hassan as an intelligent, workaholic and firm diplomat.

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