The United States has announced an additional 40-million-dollar (N14 billion) aid to Nigeria to address the humanitarian crisis arising from decades of the Boko Haram insurgency.
The Secretary of State, Mr Mike Pompeo, who made the announcement in Washington DC on Tuesday, said this was in addition to nearly 350 million dollars (N122.5 billion) in assistance provided by the U.S. last year. Pompeo spoke during a joint media briefing with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, after the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission (BNC) meeting hosted by the Department of State. “The foreign minister (Onyeama) and I also discussed today the massive humanitarian crisis that the conflict with Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa and other religious and ethnic violence.
“We know that these issues are hard. We know that they’re complicated. “But I strongly encouraged the Nigerian government to do more to protect its civilians, including religious communities and the humanitarian organisations seeking to assist them. “To aid in this effort, I’m pleased to announce today an additional 40 million dollars in humanitarian assistance to Nigeria, adding to the nearly 350 million dollars that we provided last year,’’ he said. The BNC is a platform for the Nigerian and U.S. governments to expand cooperation and advance shared goals in the areas of trade and investment, development, good governance and security. Pompeo said the two-day meeting also featured discussions on security cooperation between both countries, especially Nigeria’s “recent purchase’’ of 12 U.S.-made A-29 fighter planes worth 500 million dollars. The sale of the aircraft, according to him, is in support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision of building “a security force with the best training and modern weaponry.” He said the U.S. would “hold Nigeria to the pledge’’ of ensuring that the country’s military operates with the highest standards of respect for human rights.
On his part, Onyeama described the security challenges facing the country as an existential threat, but was quick to note that they were being addressed with respect for human rights. “Of course, we are faced with other security issues within Nigeria, and we know that some of them cause disquiet amongst our partners and we are addressing a number of those. “And in addressing those internal challenges, and especially in the security area, we absolutely make it clear and strive to uphold human rights. “We have the greatest interest in protecting and respecting the human rights of our population and we do that,’’ he said. Find below transcript of the briefing:
Secretary Pompeo: Well, good morning, everyone. It’s my pleasure to welcome you, M Minister, and your entire Nigerian delegation to Washington, DC. The foreign minister and I just completed a very productive conversation on how to continue to strengthen the economic and security ties between our two nations. This is a real priority for us in the Trump administration in Africa, because Nigeria is Africa’s most populous democracy and its largest economy. On that note, let me begin and talk about our economic cooperation. Nigeria is already America’s second-largest trading partner in Africa. U.S. companies from Google to Chevron to KPMG invested over a billion dollars in Nigeria in 2018 alone, creating over 18,000 jobs and indirectly supporting 3 million others. It’s what American companies do. It’s what we do all over the world every day, and they do it in a spirit of transparency and partnerships with the host nations. The foreign minister and I discussed how we can tighten our trade ties even further, including in infrastructure investment. Embracing free market policies that attract capital – private capital, ensuring consistent enforcement of the law, and doubling down on anti-corruption efforts are the surest way to grow prosperity in Nigeria and all across the region. And we’re pleased, too, that President Buhari has prioritised that fight against corruption. In support of that fight, I am announcing today that the United States and Nigeria have signed an agreement to return to the Nigerian people more than $308 million in assets stolen by a former dictator. Now I’ll turn to our security cooperation, which has also been expanding. Case in point: Nigeria’s recent $500 million purchase of 12 U.S.-made A-29 aircraft. This supports President Buhari’s recently stated goal of creating “a security force with the best training and modern weaponry.” He also pledged that those forces “will be held to the highest standards of… respect for human rights.” The United States will hold Nigeria to that pledge, and we’ll help you achieve it. The United States has already invested in the training of Nigeria’s military on human rights and the Law of Armed Conflict.
Nigeria was one of the first African nations to joint the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. America is now supporting the Nigerian fight against ISIS’s largest global affiliate, ISIS-West Africa – a dangerous threat to both of our countries. In part due to this terrorism threat, on Friday, President Trump announced the suspension of immigrant visas for Nigerians because Nigeria has room to grow in sharing important national security information. I am optimistic that’s going to happen. In the proclamation, President Trump highlighted Nigeria’s importance as a strategic partner in the global fight against terrorism and recognised the government’s commitment to improving information sharing with us. The foreign minister and I also discussed today the massive humanitarian crisis that the conflict with Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa and other religious and ethnic violence. We know that these issues are hard. We know that they’re complicated. But I strongly encouraged the Nigerian government to do more to protect its civilians, including religious communities and the humanitarian organizations seeking to assist them. To aid in this effort, I’m pleased to announce today an additional $40 million in humanitarian assistance to Nigeria, adding to the nearly $350 million that we provided last year. In closing, I want to thank you for being here with me today, for joining us with a big delegation to work to address all of these important opportunities that our two nations have between us. Thank you. Foreign Minister Onyeama: Thank you very much, Secretary. Well, first of all, I’d like to say it’s been a great pleasure to be back in Washington to attend the Binational Commission between the United States and Nigeria.