US, Nigeria establish working groups on security, economy

United States and Nigeria agree to set up bilateral working groups on security cooperation, economy and corruption issues

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari (L) arrives on his official plane to attend the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit meetings in Washington, on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, March 30, 2016.

Updated Apr 1, 2016

The United States and Nigeria agreed to set up working groups to intensify cooperation on security, the economy and corruption issues ensuing day-long talks at the US State Department on Wednesday.

The countries announced in a joint statement that the groups would prepare a paper within a month finalising goals.

The meetings on Wednesday were commenced by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, both of whom share similar views on security challenges caused by Boko Haram militants in the northeast Nigeria and neighbouring countries, as well as economic difficulties due to a drop in oil prices.

Kerry said the United States was committed to helping Nigeria tackle Boko Haram. He also added that security forces had to avoid human rights violations as they fight against the group.

"Under President Buhari, Nigeria has been taking the fight to Boko Haram and it has reduced Boko Haram's capacity to launch full-scale attacks," Kerry said, "however, the group still remains a threat, a serious threat, to the entire region."

He said in recent months that US military trainers were helping Nigeria's security forces improve information sharing tactics and training and equipping two infantry battalions.

"Now, I want to be clear, this aid is predicated on the understanding that, even when countering a group as ruthless as Boko Haram, security forces have a duty to set the standard with respect to human rights," he cautioned, adding, "One abuse does not excuse another."

On the economy, Kerry said the US was "encouraged" by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's commitment to diversify Nigeria's economy to make it less dependent on oil.

But Nigeria needed to create an environment that was welcoming to investment, Kerry added.

 About 182 million people live in Nigeria, which represents 47 percent of the population and makes Nigeria the most populated country in Africa

Although the fluctuation in global oil prices has crippled Nigeria’s economy in the short term, the government’s efforts to diversify and expand the country's economic activities could create more solid public and private sectors in the future.

Oil accounts represents about 90 percent of exports and roughly 75 percent of the country’s consolidated budgetary revenues according to World Bank estimates.

Africa’s top oil exporter has faced economic difficulties in financing the public sector due to a drop in global oil prices.

TRTWorld and agencies