By Ochiaka Ugwu
The United States (US) Government has promised to contribute an additional $45.5 million to rehabilitate the victims ravaged by the Boko Haram violence in the north east of Nigeria, even as it lauded the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) recently launched by the Nigerian government to address its challenges.
US Deputy Secretary of State, Mr. John Sullivan disclosed this in his remarks at the opening session of the 2017 Nigeria/US Bi national Commission (BNC) in Abuja on Monday, stressing that the US is collaborating with Nigeria on the platform of the BNC to improve living conditions of Nigerians especially in the north east of the country.
The BNC is a broad-based high level bilateral tie between Nigeria and US established in 2010 to strengthen relations in the areas security, economic growth and development and good governance. The theme for this year’s BNC is “Shared Prosperity”
“Today I am happy to announce that the US through the USAID will contribute an additional $45.5 million to rehabilitate those affected by the violence in the north east. United States will continue to support food security in Nigeria including development programme focusing on the north eastern states” Sullivan said.
He lamented that an entire generation of boys and girls in the north east have had their education and their future truncated because of the violent activities of the Boko Haram adding that Nigeria must address security challenges in order to foster development.
“As we consider deadly enemies facing Nigeria including Boko Haram and ISIS in West Africa, I want to emphasized that the US is a partner of Nigeria in this fight . We are committed to helping the Nigerian people provide their own security,” he said.
He however, warned that Nigeria’s success does not depend on its military effectiveness on the battlefield alone, but an improvement to the requirements of governance. “In other words a comprehensive response is necessary for the benefit of the northeast and Nigeria as a whole’’ he said.
Speaking earlier, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the since the inception of the BNC between the two countries in 2010, the achievements made by both covered several areas such as security, aviation, trade and investment, economic development, power infrastructure.
He disclosed that since the establishment of the BNC, Nigeria has witnessed major investment flows from US including the contribution of some $ 500 million to generate electricity megawatts in Abia state and $250 million to boost the Agbara industrial estate in Ogun state and number of others adding that the BNC also facilitated the reestablishment of direct airlink between our two countries.
He also thanked the US for selling 12 Tocarno aircraft military weapons to Nigeria earlier this year, stressing that under the BNC, Nigeria recorded other achievements such as defeating the Boko Haram diversification of the economy, job creation and strengthening democratic institutions against corruption.
Meanwhile, the United States also called for Nigeria to probe human rights abuses in the fight against Boko Haram, Mr. Sullivan said “transparent and credible” inquiries into violations and prosecutions were needed to help heal wounds in the battle-scarred region.
“This is essential to deepening the people’s trust of the government, strengthening security efforts in the northeast and improving the United States’ ability to partner with Nigeria,” he said on a visit to Abuja.
Nigerian troops have been repeatedly accused of abuses against Boko Haram suspects and civilians, including arbitrary arrest, torture, and extra-judicial killings.
The military has consistently denied the claims but concern about the army’s record has limited direct foreign involvement in the fight-back against the jihadists.
US troops have been providing help to Nigerian and regional forces fighting Boko Haram, running an unmanned surveillance drone operation from a base in northern Cameroon.
Washington and other Western powers have also provided training for Nigerian troops. Sullivan, the most senior Trump administration official to visit Nigeria this year, said the US was “committed to helping the Nigerian people provide their own security” but said military might alone was not enough.