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By Pita Ochai

The United States Embassy in Nigeria is worried by the state of insecurity in Nigeria occasioned by Boko Haram insurgency. As part of its measures to assist Nigeria tackle the insurgency, the US Embassy used the recent 2014 Annual Lecture of Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Alumni Association of Nigeria (HHHF) held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) Lagos to provide the antidote for the rising insecurity. In a lecture with the theme: “Managing Down Insurgency: The American Experience,” the US Ambassador to Nigeria, James F. Entwistle advised the federal government to effectively address factors that fuel insurgency by ensuring that its citizens truly enjoy the dividends of democracy.

Entwistle who was represented by Maria Brewer, Charge d’ Affairs ad Interim, US Embassy, Abuja, challenged the government to fight insurgency to pave the way for the security of lives and property of its citizens. According to the envoy, addressing terrorism involves “protection of civilian populations, economic development in impoverished areas where extremism takes root. It requires accessible education for all, and a free and fair press that can report openly and without fear of reprisal.”

Entwistle noted that the US government was eager to see Nigeria win the war on terrorism and “fully supports the Nigerian people in their struggle.” Sharing the experiences of the US in combating insurgency, he explained that over the last decade, the US government has learnt that defeating terrorism requires more than military power. “Most importantly, it requires viable alternatives for young people who remain vulnerable to the lure of extremism due to the lack of opportunities,” he said.

To him, the first step in tackling insurgency is to develop the educational institutions that will ensure that the growing population is educated. He observed that Nigeria has over 10 million out-of-school children. “What will be the fate and future of these children,” he asked. He charged Nigerians and civil society organisations to demand from the federal government actions that will create education for out-of-school children as well as do things that will move the country forward. “Through partnership with the government of Nigeria, the US government has spent millions of dollars to assist in training the Nigerian Armed Forces, the Police, and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on strategies to conduct free and fair elections, among other development initiatives. The USAID supports a range of humanitarian, transitional and long-term development activities in northern Nigeria,” he said.  According to him, this represents a total investment by the American people of $129 million.

Jude Ememe, president, HHHF Alumni Association and National President Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce, said that the lecture was organized by the association to build a stronger and united country where every resident enjoys peace. According to him, the issue of insecurity in Nigeria has become the biggest challenge in recent times. The insurgency has resulted in the death and displacement of millions of Nigerians, with properties worth millions of naira destroyed.

Akindele Babatunde Oyebode, a Professor of International Law at the University of Lagos, and member of the governing council, NIIA, who was one of the discussants at the event, said contrary to the view of some people, there have been improvement in terms of support from the US to Nigeria in the fight against insurgency which has become the most severe threat to the unity of the country in recent times.


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