What Nigeria must do to address security challenges – U.S.

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The U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, on Thursday, said Nigeria needs to address its security challenges holistically. Ms Nuland, who is visiting Nigeria for two days, described as ‘an evil thing, the way terrorists get into communities and destroy the fabric.’

“But what we are trying to do now, what Nigeria is trying to do, is really integrate the air and ground approach to security …I think Nigeria with our support needs to address this in a holistic way.”

She noted that it is one thing to root out terrorists from communities, but the government must then provide sustainable police and community security as well as better services and governance, else, “those guys are just going to be back.”

“We also need a regional approach to this problem because these terrorists are running across borders, we all need to work together,” she added.

Commenting on the leadership Nigeria provides at the regional level (ECOWAS), she said Nigeria plays a huge role not only in its own security but also the security of the region through ECOWAS.

“The way Nigeria goes, is the way the continent goes. So if Nigeria can become increasingly stable and secure, empowering its population, diversifying the economy and empowering the next generation, it will be a powerful engine not only for Nigeria but for the African continent and the democratic world.”

During her visit, Ms Nuland had a roundtable with civil society organisations to discuss the 2023 elections. She noted that the U.S. was very pleased to see the new Electoral Act and a longer period for campaigns. She also met with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Chief of Staff to the President Ibrahim Gambari.

“We have been focusing on a number of issues: security, free, fair and peaceful elections,” she said about her meeting with the officials.

“We also talked about our security relationship more broadly but at the high end in terms of the holistic approach to security… we are about to have a new delivery of helicopters as well. But we talked about the fact that security in our cooperation needs to be about countering terrorism at the high end but it also needs to be about what comes behind – better governance, better opportunity , driving out the ability of terrorists to make inroads to community.”

She said the U.S. will support the electoral commission, INEC, and the police, to provide security because “we know there is quite a bit of anxiety about that.” Ms Nuland said the U.S. would love to see more investors in Nigeria but there needs to be an improvement in the enabling environment and corruption remains an obstacle.

About Ms Nuland’s visit

Ms Nuland visited Djibouti, Mozambique, and Nigeria, between June 11 and 17, 2022. In Djibouti, with an interagency team, she met with government counterparts to advance U.S.-Djibouti relations and close security cooperation.

In Mozambique, she also met with government and civil society members to discuss the full range of bilateral and regional issues, including opportunities to advance stability and economic recovery in conflict-affected areas in support of a new partnership under the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability.  Ms Nuland was sworn-in as Under Secretary for Political Affairs in April, 2021. Prior to that, she was Senior Counselor at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategic advisory and commercial diplomacy firm based in Washington DC. She was also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Distinguished Practitioner in Grand Strategy at Yale University, and a Member of the Board of the National Endowment for Democracy. With 33 year as a U.S. diplomat, she served as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs from September 2013 until January 2017 under President Obama.

She was State Department spokesperson during Secretary Hillary Clinton’s tenure, and U.S. Ambassador to NATO during President George W. Bush’s second term, 2005-2008. Ms Nuland served as Special Envoy and chief negotiator on the Treaty on Conventional Arms Control in Europe from 2010-2011, and as Deputy National Security Advisor to Vice President Cheney from 2003-2005. In addition to two tours at NATO in Brussels, she has served overseas in Russia, China and Mongolia, and in various assignments at the State Department in Washington.

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