2 October 2011

Nigeria: We Will Fight Boko Haram, Corruption, Says U.S.

The United States government has vowed to stand with Nigeria at her turbulent period, as well as help in combating the acts of corruption from political office- holders and terrorist attacks from the Boko Haram sect, which have been ridiculing the country for a some time.

Making this pledge during a meeting with the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Olugbenga Ashiru in Washington DC at the weekend, the United States Secretary, Ms Hillary Clinton said that the United States government will work with the Nigerian government towards a strong anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and other ways to promote transparency.

"As we continue our close cooperation with Nigeria through the second year of our Bi-national Commission, we will set forth our priorities, and they include improving governance, fighting corruption, delivering services more effectively to the people"

"Economic development is key; Nigeria is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with the largest population in Africa and strong trading relationships. We want to see Nigeria prosper and grow. To this end, the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation, OPIC, has just approved $250m in financing to help revitalise the Union Bank of Nigeria, and to reach previously un-banked people in Nigeria, and we will look for ways to support Nigeria, as it reduces inequality and builds a broader base for prosperity"

Clinton further stated that the United States government would stand with Nigeria as it faces serious security issues, stressing that the bombing of the UN headquarters in Abuja last month was a horrific and cowardly act.

"We want to work with Nigeria and West Africa to improve security and to make sure that we also address the legitimate needs of people before extremists have a chance to exploit them"

Clinton also noted that Nigeria has also played an important role on global issues through its seat on the UN Security Council and has been a leader in helping to improve stability in West Africa.

She added that Nigeria played a key role in supporting the difficult democratic transitions in Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, and Niger, and noted that its own example of credible elections provides it with great credibility in democracy promotion across the continent.

In his response, Ashiru gave an assurance that there was a useful discussion on security matters with Clinton to offer support and assistance to Nigeria to combat the issue of terrorism.

"You see, no one country can handle this issue on its own, so it has to be multi-lateral and multi-faceted, and from all our meetings, we have received assurances of support to help Nigeria in this new wave, which of course, as you rightly know, is much new to us in Nigeria. But we believe that our government is on top of the situation and they will continue to develop expertise and capability to manage and curtail this new menace that we have."

Speaking on the bi-national agreement, Ashiru also asked U.S. companies to take advantage of the boom that is being foreseen in the nearest future in the energy sector, and stressed that the U.S. companies should not sit on the fence as they did during the telecommunications boom in Nigeria.

"We must not allow their competitors to go reaping only from Nigeria, and now this is the time for them to move into Nigeria and take part in the energy boom which we foresee.

"There are many notable U.S. companies that are the leading players, especially in manufacturing of turbines and so on. We believe this is the time for them to come to Nigeria and invest. And we see a big market for the energy sector in Nigeria," he also noted.

He also said that the federal government has opened its doors to other companies in the agricultural and rural transportation sector to also come into Nigeria as a result of its agricultural boom.

Ashiru said that the government is turning to mechanised agriculture, believing that the expertise is there.

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