Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What Kerry Discussed With Buhari, 5 Governors
By Isiaka Wakili, Rakiya A. Muhammad & Abubakar Auwal, Sokoto
Nigeria Daily Trust
Aug 24 2016 5:00AM

President Muhammadu Buhari with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday

The United States has pledged more support to Nigeria’s anti-graft fight even as it praised President Muhammadu Buhari’s courage.

“We applaud what you are doing. Corruption creates a ready-made playing field for recruiting extremists,” visiting U.S. Secretary of State, Mr John Kerry, told Buhari at a closed-door meeting at the Presidential Villa yesterday.

“You inherited a big problem, and we will support you in any way we can. We will work with you very closely. “We don’t want to interfere, but will offer opportunities as you require,” Kerry said.

He was also quoted to have pledged to assist in tackling the humanitarian challenges in the north-east.

He said the U.S would get the United Kingdom, France and others “to augment the support.”

“Nigeria is priority for us. We won’t miss the opportunity to work together, because you are making significant progress,” he said.    

President   Buhari in his remarks assured Nigerians that the ongoing anti-corruption campaign in the country will be   institutionalized and made to last beyond the life of his administration.

Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina quoted Buhari as making the pledge at the State House in Abuja yesterday while receiving American Secretary of State, Mr John Kerry.

“We will insist on the standards we’re establishing. We are laying down administrative and financial instructions in the public service that must be obeyed. Any breach will no longer be acceptable.

“We will retrain our staff, so that they understand the new orientation. And those who run foul of these rules will be prosecuted, no matter who is involved. But we will be fair, just and act according to the rule of law.

“Anyone perceived corrupt is innocent till we can prove it. We will work very hard to establish documentation for successful prosecution, and those in positions of trust will sit up,” the president said.

He appreciated the US intervention in the 2015 general elections in Nigeria, affirming that “America did not do it because of what it stands to benefit from us. You did it for the Nigerian people. It tells so much what the U.S stands for in the world.”

On the Boko Haram insurgency, Buhari thanked the U.S for both their hard and soft military help.

“The training and intelligence that we could not muster ourselves, we received. The training has made Boko Haram less of a threat to Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region, while the military hardware has given our troops added confidence,” he said.

The president also told Kerry that though the militancy in the Niger Delta had impacted negatively on the economy and affected the positive intentions of international and local investors, his administration was showing restraint.  

Speaking on the economy, Buhari said his administration’s focus was on diversification having learnt lessons from years of over-dependence on oil.  

Earlier, in Sokoto, Mr John Kerry lamented that corruption cost the global economy USD 2.6 trillion every year.

Delivering a speech on the importance of resilient communities and religious tolerance in countering violent extremism at the Sultan Palace, Kerry said developed countries were not doing enough to improve good governance globally.

“We are not collectively yet doing enough to improve good governance and that need to be changed because we are all paying for corruption as it costs the global economy  USD2.6 trillion every year which ought to be spent in providing infrastructures, education, health and to ensure food security,” he stated.

According to him, the fight against corruption has to be a global security priority of the first order and that developed countries have to help other countries to eliminate corruption in their midst.

“Bribery, fraud and all forms of criminality endanger everything that we own, everything that we value and encourage human trafficking, discourage accountability in governance and undermine the community,” he stated.

On the fight against terrorism, Kerry said Nigeria and its allies had succeeded in degrading Boko Haram, but that this should be seen as the beginning of the fight.

“People join violent groups because they have trouble finding meaning or opportunity in their daily lives, because they lost hope in the future, because they lost confidence in legitimate government and  they are really frustrated,” he said.

He maintained that one of the central tasks was for Nigeria to work towards removing vulnerability through building and rebuilding trust in government and the military. Trust creates citizens,” he stressed.

 Sultan: We’ll continue to work with everybody for peace

Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar yesterday pledged Nigeria’s commitment towards working with the rest of the world to ensure global peace.

He said: “We will continue to work with body to have a peaceful world.”

The Sultan gave the assurance when he received the US Secretary of State, John Kerry who paid him a courtesy call at his palace in Sokoto.

He lauded the choice of Sokoto for Kerry’s speech on the importance of resilient communities and religious tolerance in countering violent extremism‎.”It will further make our state and nation to be a model for peaceful coexistence,” he noted.

Earlier, the US Secretary of State acknowledged the efforts of the Sultan of Sokoto and the state Governor towards fostering peace and development.

He noted that the leaders were deeply engaged in building community of tolerance, understanding and inclusiveness. The efforts, he noted, “are pushing back against those who misinterpret the religion of Islam and extremism.‎”

Kerry stated:”I come here today on behalf of people of the United States and president Obama to express our solidarity with you in your effort to build a place that is prosperous and peaceful, we respect your work.”

Also, Sokoto Governor,A‎minu Tambuwal said the state remained very peaceful with tolerant and accommodating people.

He asserted that the choice of his state for Kerry’s speech would further position Sokoto on the global map.

Yesterday’s visit would make the third time that   John Kerry   has   visited    the country in the past 20 months, and has met Buhari on several other occasions.

B/Haram: We’re open to dialogue – Shettima

Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima has said that his state and the federal government were open to dialogue with the Boko Haram insurgents.

He, however, said dialogue had to be held with credible leaders of the sect.

Shettima spoke yesterday with State House reporters after he and his counterparts from Sokoto, Zamfara, Bauchi and Kwara States met with American Secretary of State, John Kerry.

The governor was responding to a question on the warning by Kerry earlier yesterday in Sokoto on government’s handling of the Boko Haram.

Shettima said the country was now in a position of strength to negotiate with the sect, adding that a holistic approach was being adopted to tackle the insurgency.

“Because the Boko Haram is not a uniformed outfit with shared ideology and focus, their perspectives differ a lot. It’s like the Bermuda Triangle- on one hand, you’ve the economically induced Boko Haram who are amenable to dialogue who can lay down their tools and be part of the reintegration process of the de-radicalisation process of the rehabilitation and resettlement process.

And then, we’ve the die-hards that have been called the nihilists, people who are hell-bent on a suicidal path and there is very little you can do and you cannot even talk to them from a position of weakness,” he said.

He said though the humanitarian crisis in the North-east was dear to the US, Nigeria had to recognise that nobody could solve her problems.

“We’ve to take charge of our destiny and do what is right to take care of the needs of our people,” he said.

Shettima said Borno wanted all its internally displaced persons to return home by May 29, next year.

He disclosed that there were challenges of early marriages, child prostitution, drug abuse and gangsterism in most of the IDP camps.

Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal said Kerry specifically expressed the commitment of the US government on girl-child education, healthcare and renewable energy.


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