The United States Secretary of State, John Kerry has said that his country will invest more than $600 million in Nigeria this year.
He disclosed this during the opening session of the U.S.A – Nigeria Bi-National Commission meeting.
The delegation from Nigeria was headed by Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyema, flanked by other officials including Nigerian Charge d’Affaires Hakeem Balogun.
Kerry was accompanied by leaders from the State Department, USAID, the Defence Department, Commerce Department, and other key agencies and U.S. Ambassador James Entwistle.
Kerry, who praised Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari’s activities so far in office in the area of security and the push to diversify the economy, said, “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.”
He frowned at the Boko Haram insurgents, and assured of U.S. support to wipe off the sect and end its deadly activities.
On investment, he pointed out 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.”
He added, “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.”
Onyema expressed hope on a successful outcome as the meeting went into a closed door.