President Buhari’s Speech During The Working Lunch On His Visit To The United States
Senior Government officials,
I have just had excellent discussions with President Trump and I would like to reiterate my immense gratitude to you, Mr. President for your kind invitation and the very warm and generous hospitality extended to me and my delegation since our arrival in the United States;
We greatly appreciate the importance your administration attaches to a strong relationship with Nigeria. The United States remains for us a valued friend and strategic partner, whose support and solidarity over the years has meant a great deal to us. Our government’s three main priority areas are:
b) Anti-corruption and good governance
c) Economic growth and job creation
We congratulate you, Mr. President on the statesmanly role you have played in so dramatically transforming the course of events in the Korean Peninsula to make the denuclearization of the region a real possibility.
On security, please accept our sincere congratulations on the important role played by the US in the defeat of ISIS, although some of the remnants have found their way to the Sahel region. We are very grateful for the strong US support in our fight against terrorism. We also appreciate very much your agreement to sell twelve Super Tucano A-29 war planes and weapons to Nigeria to effectively fight terrorism.
To contain the spate of insurgency in Nigeria, the Federal government has adopted a multi-sectoral approach, involving relevant government agencies to address the socio-economic and political dimensions while the Armed Forces of Nigeria assist the civil authorities to provide security and maintain law and order.
As part of efforts to address emerging cases of insurgency in the country, the Nigerian Military adopted a non-kinetic counter terrorism/counter insurgency approach code-named “Operation safe corridor”, to de-radicalize, re-habilitate, and re-integrate willingly surrendered Boko-Haram members into the larger society.
This programme is currently embarking on a number of projects including: skill acquisition centers and integrated farms; comprising poultry, fishpond and greenhouse farming, among others.
A number of international partners, including the International Organization for Migration have contributed to the success of Operation Safe Corridor. We will also appreciate whatever support we could also get from the US.
We are extremely grateful for your government’s support in the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in the North East of Nigeria, as well as humanitarian assistance to the Internally Displaced Persons, through agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development and other international partners.
The USA has been to date the biggest contributor to the humanitarian response and last year gave approximately 500 million US Dollars in cash and in-kind contributions through the United Nations and other inter-governmental organizations. These have mainly supported protection activities, namely health, food assistance and shelter.
We are doing all we can to secure the release of the remaining abducted schoolgirls from Dapchi and Chibok. In this context, we will continue to welcome US collaboration in intelligence gathering, hostage negotiations and information-sharing.
The government is taking necessary steps to promote the peaceful co-existence of herdsmen and farmers, by focusing on boosting security and enforcing legislation that will guarantee herders and farmers’ access to land, reducing strife and promoting harmonizing economic activities.
I wish to extend sincere congratulations to you and your government on the impressive performance of the US economy under your watch.
Our aim is to diversify our economy by focusing on agriculture and food security; power and infrastructure. We have cut the importation of rice by about 90% thereby saving a significant amount of money. We very much welcome increased US investment in the Nigerian economy, especially in the non-oil sector.
Economic relations between Nigeria and the United States are anchored on three major instruments, namely: the Bi-National Commission, Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act.
The Bi-National Commission in particular, comprising bilateral political, economic, developmental and humanitarian partnership, is a basic economic framework for engagement between our two countries.
Nigeria’s trade volume with the United States stood at six point zero-seven billion United States Dollars according to 2016 statistics and comprised four point one-seven-six billion united States dollars worth of Nigerian exports to the US and one point eight-nine-four billion United States Dollars US exports to Nigeria. We should work to increase these figures substantially and to make balance of trade more even.
We thank your government very much for the cooperation we have received in our effort to recover stolen funds. Our two governments have put the machinery in place for their respective Attorneys-General to collaborate in ensuring the return to Nigeria of over five hundred million United States Dollars ($500) of looted funds siphoned away in banks around the world.
In this connection, we congratulate the US government on launching a Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, which was spearheaded by the US Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering. We hope that we can continue to count on your support in our efforts to recover our money.
The Government of Nigeria remains deeply committed to the principles of human rights as well as the promotion and protection of people’s freedom, even in the process of fighting terror. We will ensure that all documented cases of human rights abuses are investigated and those responsible for violations held accountable for their actions.
In addition, the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria inaugurated the Nigerian Military Human Rights Dialogue in August 2015 to provide the Nigerian Military and Para-Military with necessary tools to integrate human rights practices into their code, education systems, field training and disciplinary systems.
To this end, the victims of a criminal law enforcement operation that occurred in 2013 (otherwise known as Apo-six) were compensated in April this year based on the findings of the National Human Rights Commission. Two of the police officers responsible were convicted for culpable homicide arising from the extra-judicial killings.
Mr. President, this is the first time in the history of Nigeria that the Federal Government compensated the victims of extra-judicial killings. It also provides a sustainable platform for local and international human rights organizations to constructively engage the Nigerian security forces on human rights concerns. We also look to share best practices in this area with the United States.
I thank you, Mr. President, again for hosting us and for your constructive response to our shaped problems. I hope you make Nigeria the first port of call whenever you visit African continent.
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