Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Barack Obama
The United States government said Thursday that Nigeria cannot fully succeed in playing its leadership role in Africa unless it overcomes its biggest challenge of insecurity posed by the Boko Haram insurgents.
It, however, offered to assist the country, saying, “Nigeria’s success is important to us, and we will continue to invest in Nigeria’s institutions, people, and businesses to both countries’ mutual benefit.” US Under Secretary, Wendy Sherman who stated this while speaking at the 9th US – Nigeria Bi-National Commission meeting noted that the United States and Nigeria had ties to each other at every level. “At some $5 billion dollars, Nigeria is the second largest destination for US private investment in Africa. However, one of our strongest connections is even more personal.
More than 1.5 million Nigerians and Nigerian-Americans live in the United States, and an estimated 31,000 US citizens live in Nigeria,” she stated. On the insurgency bedevilling the country, Sherman said, “We also recognise that success cannot be achieved unless Nigeria surmounts the challenges that frustrate progress. It is in this spirit that the United States engages today in this working group on Regional Security Cooperation.
Nigeria faces several challenges to national and regional stability. “The largest of these challenges is, of course, a Boko Haram-led insurgency operating in the country’s northeast that has created widespread insecurity across northern Nigeria, increased tensions between various ethnic communities, interrupted development activities, frightened off investors, and generated concerns among Nigeria’s northern neighbors. Nigeria cannot fully achieve its potential as a stable regional leader until Nigeria successfully overcomes the challenge of Boko Haram and secures peace and protection for all its citizens in all regions.”
Noting that Boko Haram offers no practical solutions to the problems confronting the northern part of the country, She said, “Instead, it capitalizes on popular frustrations, religious differences, and economic and social difficulties, seeking to undermine the government and exploit religious differences in order to create chaos and make Nigeria ungovernable. On how to tackle the security menace, the US under secretary said, “Security efforts are necessary to protect innocent Nigerians, to prevent Boko Haram’s acts of violence, and to capture and prosecute its leaders. The
Nigerian government and military must also win over the hearts and minds of northern populations by protecting them and providing timely and commensurate justice to both insurgents and the victims of this unfortunate conflict. “Though no easy task, a comprehensive approach that addresses socio-economic problems, articulates clear rules of engagement, and commits to accountability for those who perpetrate violence, both Boko Haram and security forces, will demonstrate to every Nigerian that their future is brighter in a more secure Nigeria.”