Amb. Mary Beth Leonard, new U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria has pledged to leverage U.S. diplomacy, foreign assistance, and the private sector to partner with Nigeria to expand economic growth, increase security, and counter corruption.
Leonard made the pledge during her confirmations hearing on Tuesday in Abuja while presenting her credentials to President Muhammadu Buhari at a ceremony in the Presidential Villa.
The Public Affairs Section of the U.S Embassy in Abuja made this known in a statement on Tuesday.
According to the statement, the U.S. Senate confirmed Leonard on Aug. 1, after she was nominated for the position by U.S. President ,Donald Trump on June 24.
It stated that she was sworn in as the Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Oct. 4, in Washington, D.C.
The statement quoted Leonard saying, “I would look to harness U.S. tools, from existing ones like the African Growth and Opportunity Act and our hard-working Foreign Commercial and Agriculture Service Officers.
“To newer ones like Prosper Africa and the Development Finance Cooperation’s increased budget for insurance, loans and loan guarantees, and equity investments.
“To promote our mutual prosperity,” it stated.
Speaking on Nigerian youth and the potential they hold, Leonard said that “like Americans, Nigerians are hard-working, inventive, and entrepreneurial.
“Nigeria’s youth are fueling exceptional endeavors in areas from information technology to agriculture.
“Offering the promise of the opportunities the country will need to meet the challenge of its youthful demographics”.
According to the statement, Leonard said that she would therefore work to channel America’s dynamism to support Nigeria toward prosperity and security.
The statement noted that Amb. Leonard is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor.
From 2016 to 2019, Leonard was the Representative of the United States of America to the African Union, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, serving concurrently as U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Economic Commission for Africa.
She was previously the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Mali from 2011-2014 and her service in Mali was recognized with the Department’s Diplomacy for Human Rights Award in 2013.
An honor that annually recognizes a U.S. Chief of Mission who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to defending human rights and advancing democratic principles in his or her host country.
She served as the State Department’s Senior Faculty Advisor at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, following a year as the Department’s Diplomat in Residence for New England, based at Tufts University.
Amb. Leonard was also the Director for West African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State from 2009-2011, and Deputy Chief of Mission in Bamako, Mali from 2006 to 2009. (NAN)