US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says US will assist Nigeria with latest security equipment and intelligence sharing in its efforts toward the safe return of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls.
Tillerson stated this when he briefed newsmen alongside Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to him, the US government will also offer special training for security personnel to enable them engage in special operations towards the rescue the girls as well as the remaining Chibok schoolgirls in captivity.
He, however, expressed the hope that both the Chibok and Dapchi schoolgirls would return home.
“First, we respect the responsibilities of the government of Nigeria and the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
“But the way we support is in providing them capability capacity with equipment and also training of the personnel of special operations and sharing intelligence to ensure that they have all the information available to carry out the recovery effort.
“But I think it is also important to put this in a broad regional context as well. Boko Haram is a threat to other regions and this has been the subject of my meetings elsewhere and in Africa as well.
“In my discussion with President Derby in Chad earlier today, we spoke about the threat of Boko Haram and I think it is important and it’s really been powerful.
“The collaboration between the joint task force which Nigeria is a part and Chad is a part, to respond to this threat of terrorism which Boko Haram is one of the organizations, there are other threats that the leadership of this country has to deal with.
“So the United States is ready to engage and coordinate efforts as well. But we have been supporting, equipping, training and when we can provide information.
“I think that is the best way we have been helping the government of Nigeria secure the release of the girls, which we hope, will be done in a peaceful manner. We hope that something can be worked out and they can secure the release of these girls quickly,’’ he said.
On his recent warning to African countries against doing business with China, Tillerson said the warning was not meant to stop Chinese investments from flowing to countries that needed such investments.
He, however, cautioned that such countries should be careful with the level of debts they might accumulate as a result of such business dealings.
“But what we are cautioning countries is to look carefully, that the implications of the level of debts, the terms of the debts, and whether the arrangements around the local financing are intact creating jobs, local capacity or the projects being carried out by foreign labour being brought to your country.
“Is the structure of the financing such that you will always be in control of your infrastructure?
“Are there mechanisms to deal with the faults so that you do not loss ownership of your own assets? These are national assets whether they are ports, railways, or major highways.
“We have seen this occurred in other countries that were not so careful and has result they got themselves in situation where they awfully lost control of their infrastructure, lost the ownership, the operationalization of it.
“And that is the precaution that we are talking about. That there are international rules and norms and financial structure to deal with unforeseen circumstances and I think we are just cautioning countries to look carefully.
“We have seen many around the world that did not work out so well and we are just saying as friends, be careful,’’ he said.
According to the top U.S. diplomat, the American government is creating other alternative financing mechanisms that are available for African nations, saying “we are developing mechanism that will also create alternative opportunities financing offer.’’
Tillerson also stressed the need to increase the volume of trade between the U.S. and Nigeria which he said stood at nine billion dollars.
In his contribution, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, said Nigeria had succeeded in degrading Boko Haram, contrary to reports in the social media.
“Fighting terrorism is a new challenge globally. When we talked of having degraded Boko Haram, we were referring specifically to the situation that we were confronted with when the government took over.
“That was a situation where you have a classical military confrontation and Boko Haram were capturing territory, holding unto territory and hoisting flags. So as a conventional military threat, Boko Haram has been completely degraded.”
He, however, acknowledged a challenge with regards to sporadic suicides and bombings as well as kidnapping of the girls. (NAN)