•U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Thomas Shannon Jr
The U.S. has released $54 million in addition to humanitarian assistance to Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and the four countries affected by the Boko Haram violence.
U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Mr Thomas Shannon Jr, said at a symposium on tagged ‘Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects for Advancing Durable Peace”, organised by the U.S. Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C.
Shannon said that the U.S. Government’s humanitarian assistance to the four countries totalled about 700 million dollars since 2015.
He said: “On security issues, Nigeria is an important leader and partner in the Lake Chad Basin, collaborating with its neighbours to defeat the scourge of Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa.
“The United States supports this and other efforts to bring security and stability to citizens affected by violence.
“At the United Nations last week, the U.S. government announced $54 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the Lake Chad region, bringing the total to almost $700 million over the past two years”.
According to the U.S. envoy, while humanitarian support is an immediate necessity, it cannot be a long-term solution.
“When Nigeria’s northern governors came to this institution in late 2016, the clear consensus was that addressing the war and poverty plaguing northeast Nigeria required robust initiatives for education, reconciliation and political inclusion.
“I am pleased the working group here today is bringing together your collective years of experience as spiritual leaders, military commanders, journalists, election officials, human rights advocates and educators to develop strategies to address these enduring challenges.
“The United States is proud to be your partner in these vital efforts,” he said.
“Your work to defuse conflicts over a range of issues, from elections to land use, inspires us all,” Shannon commended.
He recalled his bilateral meeting with Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama on the sidelines of the 72nd UN General Assembly last week, saying they had robust engagements about the Boko Haram crisis and other pressing issues.
Shannon said: “My meeting with the Nigerian Foreign Minister last week was a great opportunity to learn more about what else the Nigerian government is trying to accomplish on the security front.
“It is clear to me that Nigeria is well aware that the fight against terrorism will be won not only by the military’s conduct on the battlefield, but also by its conduct off the field.
“Nigeria understands that human rights abuses and impunity tarnish its international reputation, undermine the trust of its citizens, impede counterterrorism efforts, and ultimately hinder our ability to fully partner with Nigeria.”
According to him, however, a military response alone will not lead to sustained peace in the Northeast.
“A holistic response is required. One that sets the conditions for the safe return of refugees and displaced persons.
He commended the Institute and the Senior Working Group for their dedication and determination to create a more peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.