The United States Government has said that it received the news of the kidnapping of no fewer than 100 female pupils in Borno State by suspected members of the Boko Haram sect on Monday night with shock.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, while describing the abduction of the girls as “horrible,” stated that the incident underlies “how serious” the challenge of Boko Haram is.
To this end, Entwistle pledged White House’s readiness to offer assistance to the Federal Government in “every appropriate way” in the search for the abducted girls, as well as in bringing an end to terrorist activities in Nigeria.
Entwistle spoke in Lagos on Wednesday during the opening ceremony of a multinational maritime military exercise tagged “Obagame Express 2014” sponsored by the Africa Command of the US Naval Forces.
The US envoy said, “It is condemnable. That kind of incident along with the bombing in Abuja, just explains why my country (US) stands with your country (Nigeria) in the struggle against terrorism.
“We are willing to help in every appropriate way. But that kind of incident is shocking and that just underlies how serious this is. But our heart goes out to those children and to their families.
“I am sure the security forces are already looking for them and trying to respond to the situation. I know your government is already doing everything it can but it is a horrible incident.”
Apart from the area of insurgency, Entwistle explained that the Barack Obama administration is also committed to helping Nigeria stem the tide of oil bunkering.
He recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan last September in New York, solicited for the support of the US in containing oil bunkering adding that his government had already delivered its fact finding report on the menace to the Federal Government.
“We were asked to help your government in the struggle against oil bunkering. We sent out an inter-agency delegation and have delivered a report to your government.
“One clear conclusion is that your Navy has a key role to play in fighting oil bunkering and that is one of those reasons we are so eager and proud to continue our close relationship with the Nigerian Navy,” Entwistle added.
Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, in his welcome address lamented that securing the “living and non-living resources” on the Gulf of Guinea has continued to pose a major challenge to Nigeria and other maritime nations in the axis.
Jibrin, who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Naval Headquarters, Rear Admiral Ameen Ikioda, stated that the military exercise which Nigeria was hosting for the second time in three years, highlighted the nation’s resolve to develop its capacity.
The naval chief said Nigeria’s collaboration with international partners especially the US and other maritime nations will go a long way in securing the Gulf of Guinea.
He added, “Regrettably securing those resources on the Gulf of Guinea have continued to pose a major challenge not only to Nigeria but also to maritime nations in the region.
“In the light of these recent collaborations between countries on the Gulf of Guinea and our international partners like the US Africa Command, we are using this military exercise to develop individual countries’ capacity to secure their respective maritime area.”
Director, Obagame Express 2014 Military Exercise, Capt. Nancy Lacore, of the US Africa Command, expressed optimism that the programme which scheduled to last for seven days, will help improve the 20 participating countries’ capabilities in deterring piracy, illicit trafficking, and other maritime threats.