From AIDOGHIE PAULINUS, Abuja
The United States has lamented the incursion and activities of Boko Haram and ISIS in the West African region.
The US also announced an additional donation of $45.5 million to support the stabilization and early recovery efforts in the north east.
The donation which was made through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is to help those who have been affected by violence in the northeast to begin to rebuild their lives.
Visiting US Deputy Secretary of State, John Sullivan, while speaking during the opening ceremony of the US-Nigeria bi-national commission in Abuja, noted that security, development and governance were connected and cannot be considered in a vacuum, saying that they each affect the other.
He recalled his meeting with 17 years old Maryam Ahmed, an indigene of Kano and a girl champion for Save the Children, a non-governmental organization during the International Day for the Girl last month in his office.
Ahmed told Sullivan how proud she was to be a girl from Northern Nigeria, and in particular, to still be in school when only four percent of girls in the region finish secondary school.
“The role of education takes on outsized importance when one considers that girls who have access to education are less likely to face violence, sexual abuse, child labor, and child marriage. Maryam understands this, and she is making it her life’s work, as an advocate for the rights and empowerment of girls, including those brutally kidnapped by Boko Haram over three years ago.
“Maryam’s story reminds all of us about the destruction Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa have wrought on the Nigerian people, and their disastrous impact on the more than two million displaced people across the region,” Sullivan lamented.
Further lamenting the situation, Sullivan said an entire generation of boys and girls has had their education and their futures, disrupted by violence.
He said Ahmed’s story also reminded the international community that there was an urgent need to consider security alongside other important issues like development and good governance to create growing and sustainable prosperity for the Nigerian people.
“As we consider the deadly enemies facing the Nigerian people, including Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa, I want to emphasize today that the United States is Nigeria’s partner in this fight. We are committed to helping the Nigerian people provide their own security,” Sullivan added.
He further said a military response alone in the northeast cannot lead to sustained peace, adding that Nigeria’s success does not just depend on its military effectiveness on the battlefield.
“It requires improvements to the economy and governance off the battlefield as well. In other words, a comprehensive response is necessary to build a better future in the Northeast.
“Nigeria cannot simply restore the Northeast to what it was before the destruction brought about by Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa. The Nigerian government, with civic leaders and a wide range of community leaders, must work together to create a durable social, economic, and political infrastructure to support lasting peace and development for decades to come.
“That must include transparent and credible investigations of human rights violations and mechanisms to hold those found guilty accountable for their actions. 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,” Sullivan stated.
Speaking earlier, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said it was clearly evident that in spite of the change in leadership on both sides, the foreign policy objectives to promote strongly ties between the US and Nigeria was firmly on course.
Onyeama said that the armed forces have recorded huge gains in the fight against Boko Haram and its affiliates and also done a great deal to achieve much more with fewer cases of contentious human rights issues.
“The decision of the US government to sell the 12 Super Tucano aircrafts and military equipment to Nigeria earlier this year, is a testimony to the mutual confidence and strong confidence indeed that exists now between our two countries.