Leadership (Abuja)

8 May 2014

Nigeria: Rescue of Abducted Schoolgirls Our Priority - U.S.

Israel offered Nigeria help on Sunday in locating 200 schoolgirls abducted last month by Islamist rebel group Boko Haram in an attack that has drawn ... ( Resource: Israel Offers To Help Nigeria Find Abducted Girls

US ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle, has disclosed that the rescue of the abducted school girls remains the priority of the US security personnel being sent to Nigeria.

Speaking with journalists during a meeting of USAID administrator, Rajiv Shah, with some northern governors yesterday in Abuja, Entwistle stated that a longstanding cooperation in combatting insurgency already existed prior the kidnap of over 200 schoolgirls of Government Girls' Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.

He said, "The United States has made a commitment to do what we can to support the Nigerian effort to find these young women, get them released and returned to their parents. This afternoon I was in discussion with some of the security chiefs to discuss the details of what the team would look like. Our assistance would be to help get these girls back. We have a long-term relationship focused on Boko Haram - increasing your (Nigeria's) capacity in combating them - and that will continue after we hopefully get the girls back to where they belong."

Though he did not provide specific details of the size and make-up of the expected team, he, however, stated that it would consist of personnel from different US government security agencies and that they would arrive the country 'soon.'

Addressing a cross-section of the Northern leaders in attendance, administrator of USAID, Rajiv Shah, expressed the 'deepest sympathies' of the United States regarding the spate of security breaches currently plaguing the country.

He also reiterated the commitment of the 'US at the highest level' to bring the abducted girls home.

"We care deeply for the kids of Africa, Nigeria, and Northern Nigeria. Under President Obama's leadership, we have increased our support to help children thrive and survive," he added.

On his part, the chairman of the Northern States Governors' Forum and Niger State governor Babangida Aliyu expressed hope that the meeting would help to boost education in the region.

He said: "To us it is very important that we discuss with the USAID because it is the strongest world donor agency in the world today and with what we are doing, particularly with regards to our abducted girls in Chibok.

"This is part of a country that up until today sometimes we have to beg parents to bring their children to school. For this to happen in a school environment it means if we don't do anything, we will be taken 50 years back because many parents will be discouraged to send their children to school.

"We welcome you and hope to have more fruitful discussion than the one we had earlier in the US. This is a follow-up to the meeting in the US. People will now understand that security is no longer about the bullet and the guns but about the welfare of the people. If the people have their welfare taken care of, believe me most of the issues that bring insecurity would have been taken care of."

Those present at the meeting were the US Ambassador to Nigeria, governors of Nasarawa, Niger, Kogi, Kaduna, Adamawa, Taraba (acting governor), and deputy governors of Jigawa, Benue and Kano. Zamfara was represented by the secretary to the state government (SSG).

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