-Schoolgirls’abduction heartbreaking – Tillerson
Nigeria prefers to have schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from Chibok and Dapchi back alive, and that is why it adopted negotiation as against military option, President Muhammadu Buhari has explained.
Receiving the American Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, at State House in Abuja, the president said, Nigeria was working in concert with international organisations and negotiators to ensure that the girls were released unharmed by their captors.
“We are trying to be careful.
It is better to get our daughters back alive,” he said.
The president thanked America for assistance rendered in the fight against insurgency, stressing that Nigerian forces are good, “but need assistance in the areas of training and equipment.
” President Buhari promised that his administration would continue to do its best to secure the country, adding that he would be in Yobe state, from where Dapchi schoolgirls were abducted, later this week “as part of my condolence and sympathy visits to areas where we have had unfortunate events.
” The president pledged free and fair polls in 2019, recalling that the then American Secretary of State, John Kerry, had visited before the 2015 polls, “and he told the party in government then, and those of us in opposition, to behave ourselves, and we did.
” The visiting Secretary of State commended the President on his strides in the anti-corruption war, to which the Nigerian leader responded that monies recovered were being invested on development of infrastructure.
Tillerson described Nigeria as a very important country to the U.S, stressing, “you have our support in your challenges.
We will also support opportunities to expand the economy, commercial investments, and peaceful polls in 2019.
US expresses concern
Briefing journalists at the end of the visits, Mr. Tillerson described both the Chibok and Dapchi girls as “heartbreaking.
” While expressing worry that the girls were not yet freed, he said the United States cannot go beyond the normal provision of required technical support and assistance on the rescue of the abducted girls, since Nigeria remains a sovereign nation.
He said: “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 wiThequipment 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.
” Tillerson also told journalists that the United States would continue to cooperate with Nigeria to boost bilateral trade between the countries, saying the Nigeria America Trade Dialogue would be inaugurated this year to foster trade relations.
The US Secretary of State also warned African nations to be cautious of loans from China in order to safeguard their national assets, adding that needy African countries should exploit the opportunities offered by private foreign investors.
“I think it is important to clarify that we do not seek to stop Chinese investments from flowing to countries that need those investments.
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 lose 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 they got themselves in situation where they awfully lost control of their infrastructure, lost the ownership, the operational aspect of it.
And that is the precaution that we 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.
There are other alternative financing mechanisms that are available, and I think in particular, government should create the right conditions around those infrastructure investments, “ There are also great potentials for public-private sector coinvesting in the infrastructure.
And we are developing mechanism that will also create alternative opportunities financing offer,” he said.