U.S. to invest $600m in Nigeria to develop energy, fight terrorism – Kerry

*U.S.  Secretary of State John Kerry

*U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

…Hails impact of Power Africa initiative

Oscarline Onwuemenyi,
with agency reports

31 March 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The United States will invest more than $600 million in Nigeria this year to develop energy, food security and fight terrorism, Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday in Washington.

Kerry spoke during the opening session of the U.S.- Nigeria Bi-National Commission meeting.
The Nigerian delegation was led by Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyema, supported by other officials including Nigerian Charge d’Affaires Hakeem Balogun.

Other US officials with Kerry include leaders from the State Department, USAID, the Defence Department, Commerce Department, and other key agencies. The U.S. Ambassador James Entwistle also attended.

Kerry, who hailed President Muhammadu Buhari’s actions in office in the area of security and the attempt to diversify the economy, noted that: “Our development assistance this year will top $600 million, and we are working closely with your leaders – the leaders of your health ministry – to halt the misery that is spread by HIV/AIDS, by malaria, and by TB.

“Our Power Africa Initiative is aimed at strengthening the energy sector, where shortage in electricity has frustrated the population and impeded growth.

“And our long-term food security programme, Feed the Future, is helping to create more efficient agriculture and to raise rural incomes in doing that.

“Our Young African Leaders Programme, in which many Nigerians participate, is preparing the next generation to take the reins of responsibility. And in education, we are working together to try to fight illiteracy, especially in the country’s north, where the lack of opportunity has been holding people back, and where the terrorist organisation, Boko Haram, has murdered thousands and disrupted the lives of millions.”

Kerry condemned the Boko Haram activities, promising U.S. support to finish off the sect and end its terrorist activities.

On investment, he recalled that the U.S. Commerce Secretary Pritzker “has been among the first senior U.S. officials who have been to Nigeria recently. In her case, it was to highlight investment opportunities and that is a theme that has been reinforced by yesterday’s business forum here in Washington.”

On Boko Haram, Kerry said: “Under President Buhari, Nigeria has been taking the fight to Boko Haram and it has reduced Boko Haram’s capacity to launch full-scale attacks.

“However, the group still remains a threat – a serious threat – to the entire region. And in recent months, our governments have been collaborating on new ways to institute security measures, including counter-IED equipment, improved information sharing, and training and equipping two infantry battalions.

“Now, I want to be clear, this aid is predicated on the understanding that, even when countering a group as ruthless as Boko Haram, security forces have a duty to set the standard with respect to human rights. One abuse does not excuse another.”

Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema expressed optimism on a successful outcome as the meeting went into a closed session.

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