US President Donald Trump has assured that his country will soon release fighter jets worth $496 million to Nigeria to aid the fight against Boko Haram.
Trump gave the assurance yesterday at a press conference with
President Muhammadu Buhari after their meeting in the White House.
“We are also helping our Nigerian partners by facilitating intelligence,
cooperation and providing training and military equipment to Nigerian forces.
For example, we recently sold Nigeria 12 US A-29 Super Tucano aircraft,
great aircraft, in the first ever sale of American military equipment to Nigeria.
“This new aircraft will improve Nigeria’s ability to target terrorists and protect civilians,”
Asked whether he would release at least two aircraft by 2020,
Trump said: “Real soon. Part of the problem is you weren’t allowed to buy helicopters
in our country and now you are. I worked that out so
that now you can buy the helicopters that you want.”
“They weren’t allowed to buy the helicopters for various reasons,
which frankly weren’t good reasons. Now they get them, and they get them very quickly,
and they are the best helicopters in the world.”
The payment for the aircraft by the Buhari administration led to a
friction with the National Assembly,
after lawmakers threatened to impeach the president for
spending money not approved.
Earlier at a meeting with Trump, President Buhari outlined several steps
his government has taken to address challenges of insecurity,
corruption and economy.
He said to contain the spate of insurgency in Nigeria,
his administration has adopted a multi-sector all approach,
involving relevant government agencies,
to address the socio-economic and political dimensions of the problem.
The president said as part of efforts to address emerging cases of insurgency in Nigeria,
the 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 centres and integrated farms; comprising poultry,
fish pond 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 indicated that we would appreciate whatever support
we could also get from the US,” he said.
On the violence between herdsmen and farmers,
he said his government was taking necessary steps to promote their
Buhari thanks US over loot recovery
The president thanked the US government for cooperating with
Nigeria in her effort to recover stolen funds.
He said both governments had put the machinery in place for their respective
Attorneys-General to collaborate in ensuring the return to Nigeria of over
$500 million of looted funds siphoned away in banks around the world.
“In this connection, we congratulated the US government on launching a
Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative which was spearheaded by the
US Department of Justice (DOJ) Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering.
We hoped that we could continue to count on US support in this area,” he said.
He said Nigeria was grateful for the US 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.
He affirmed that the USA had been to date the biggest contributor to
the humanitarian response and last year gave approximately $500 million in
cash and in-kind contributions through the United Nations and
other inter-governmental organizations.
“These have mainly supported protection activities, health,
food assistance and shelter,” he said.
‘We’re working to free remaining Chibok girls’
He said his administration was doing all it could to secure the release of
the remaining abducted school girls from Dapchi and Chibok.
“In this context, we will continue to welcome US collaboration in intelligence gathering,
hostage negotiations and information-sharing”.
Buhari said the aim of his administration was to diversify the 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 welcomed 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 (BNC),
Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and the Africa Growth
and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
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.”
President Buhari said Nigeria’s trade volume with the United States stood at
$6.07 billion according to 2016 statistics and comprised $4.176 billion worth
of Nigerian exports to the US and $1.894 billion US exports to Nigeria,
urging greater effort to increase these figures substantially.
On human rights, he said the Federal Government remained 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.
‘Nigeria has massive reputation for corruption’
“We commit to ensure that all documented cases of human rights abuses are
investigated and those responsible for violations held accountable for
their actions,” he said.
US President Donald Trump, while receiving Buhari at White House,
said “Nigeria has massive reputation for corruption.
I discussed it with the president and we agreed to do something on it.
We are working to cut the corruption cases down.”
President Trump however noted that President Buhari’s fight against graft is commendable.
“We talked about that, he is working on it and they have made a lot of progress
and I think they will continue to make a lot of progress.”
He said it was in the best interest of the U.S. and its businesses in
Nigeria that Buhari’s anti-graft war succeeds.
Trump said, “We have a lot of people in this country that invests in Nigeria,
so cutting down on that corruption element and a corrupt element is very important
to us and the President will be able to do that.”
On farmers/ herders conflict Trump said: “We’ve had serious problems with
Christians who have been murdered, killed …
We’re going to work on that problem and working on that problem very, very hard.”