Sunday, January 20, 2019
National Updates

Nigeria critical to stability, our future in Africa – U.S.

The U.S. says Nigeria is critical to the stability of West Africa and the future engagement of the U.S. in the subregion, pledging continued U.S. commitment in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists.U

U.S. Department of State officials said this during a background briefing on the first trip of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Africa.

Tillerson would meet with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and also leaders of Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya during his travels from Tuesday, March 6 to 13.

The official said “on Nigeria, this – fight against Boko Haram – is really a really important issue.

“And I know that in the last administrations, even the last three, we have always said going to Nigeria is critical to stability and the future for the U.S. relationship in West Africa”.

The U.S. said “we are following the recent kidnappings of 110 school girls, which really kind of follows up on several years ago of the Chibok girls.

“And those are horrendous, they’re unacceptable and terrible.

“But the issue that comes in, it’s not only a security issue – and it is a terrible security challenge – but it’s also political issue and really building those institutions and political dialogue between north and south, and also with the region.

“And so those are some of the things that we need to look at. It’s a comprehensive approach. The other issue, too, is on economic development and education”.

The U.S. noted recent UN reports about some of the extremist operations in the G-5 countries and the Trans-Sahel.

The department, however, regretted that the operations of some of these criminal groups were “about getting jobs” and “about looking at getting an income for families”.

“And if terrorism or trafficking of persons, if that’s going to get them the jobs, then that’s unacceptable and we really need to find alternative ways to help the economic development in these regions.

“And so those are some of the issues and challenges that we’ll be working on – political institutions, political dialogue, reconciliation, supporting community-based development, helping growth, education.”

It said another issue was enhancing the security, particularly in the north, saying  “it just can’t be constantly a kinetic strike operation or bring in U.S. military”.

“That’s not the answer. The answer has to be developing institutions and also providing good police training, military training, and having governments accountable to the people and having people really have faith in their institutions, and also having opportunities for job creation.

“And what happens in Nigeria is going to affect the Lake Chad region, and that includes Cameroon as well as the G-5 countries.

“So those are some of the things that we’re looking at, much more broad-based, comprehensive, and really interrelated with security”.