U.S. wants Nigeria to begin talks with Boko Haram
A FRESH insight into how to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency has come from the United States (U.S.), which wants Nigeria to open a dialogue with the group.
The proposal of the U.S. came as Vice President Namadi Sambo and his American counterpart, Joe Biden, reviewed diplomatic relations between their countries on Tuesday afternoon at the White House.
Before meeting Biden, Sambo was earlier received at the State Department by Mr. Johnnie Carson, the Assistant Secretary of State in charge of Africa.
Nigeria’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ade Adefuye, who briefed The Guardian yesterday about the closed-door White House meeting, said the meeting of the VPs, which was scheduled to last about 45 minutes, went on past an hour as both top officials reviewed their strategic relationships just as a major investment forum on Nigeria’s agriculture was being held elsewhere in the U.S. capital the same day.
The agric investment forum registered more than 600 U.S. investors and other diverse attendees, including state governors from Ekiti, Kaduna, Rivers and Kwara, federal ministers in charge of Foreign Affairs, Power, Trade, and Agriculture. In his remarks just before the end of the forum, which was closed by VP Sambo, Agriculture Minister, Akin Adesina, said already about 20 potential investors had expressed interests in the Nigerian agricultural sector.
Later on Tuesday, Sambo, in his closing remarks said the Federal Government was placing focus on “large-scale production of such staples as rice, cassava, sorghum, including opportunities in livestock, fisheries, maize, soya beans, palm oil, cocoa, cotton etc,” adding that reforms had been undertaken to make Nigeria investor-friendly.
Sambo also addressed the security challenges in the country. According to him, “I am also seizing this singular opportunity to assure this important gathering that we are addressing the security challenges in the country with all the seriousness that it deserves.”
He added that the Federal Government had been quick to respond to the challenge through various efforts, including strengthening the capacity of the security agencies, and also collaborating both at regional and global levels.
According to Amb. Adefuye, who attended the closed-door meeting, Biden said, “Nigeria is America’s anchor in Africa.” According to Adefuye, Biden added that the Obama administration was in support of Nigeria, observing that such support was in America’s national interest.
The U.S. Vice President also reportedly noted that the U.S. was well aware of Nigeria’s security challenge over Boko Haram and advised that while the enforcement of law and order by the security agencies should continue, the Federal Government should continue to explore other means to deal with the menace including opening a negotiation and addressing the prevailing problem of poverty in the northern part of Nigeria.
Biden was also said to have noted that the U.S. was impressed with how Nigeria was managing the Boko Haram challenge and expressed hope that Nigeria would soon get over with the problem.
Nigeria also received praise for its role in ECOWAS and maintaining regional security.
Adefuye disclosed that the U.S. VP praised Nigeria’s contribution during the Ivoirien presidential election crisis and the recent military coup in Mali.
On the U.S.-Nigeria Bi-national Commission, the American Vice President was said to have informed Sambo that the U.S. would now take the commission to “a higher level.”
According to Adefuye, “VP Biden said the U.S. government will submit proposals to the Nigeria government on how to take the BNC to a higher level.”
Although what that means is not immediately clear, it is believed it may involve the direct involvement of the BNC with the American White House, raising it from the ministerial level to the presidential level.
Sambo thanked the U.S. government for its support for Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram. Sambo also assured his U.S. counterpart that Nigeria would continue to take its responsibility for peace in the West African sub-region very seriously