20th November, 2014
The United States Government would like to see Nigeria defeat Boko Haram but military power alone will not be enough to win the bigger war on terrorism, an official said on Thursday.
Nigerian officials had alleged in recent weeks and months that America refuses to sell badly needed weapons to Nigeria or conduct air strikes on the Sambisa forest, the hideout of Boko Haram members.
But Maria E. Brewer, a Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja said the American Government fully supports Nigeria and the Nigerian people on its war on terror.
“Let me be clear – the United States wants Nigeria to win its war on terrorism, and we fully support the Nigerian people in their struggle, ” Brewer said in Lagos, western Nigeria, during her keynote address at the 2014 Annual Lecture of the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Programme with the theme ” Managing Down Insurgency: The American Experience”.
“Over the last decade, the United States has learned that defeating terrorism requires more than just military power,” Brewer added.
She said as friends and partners, the U.S. provides support to Nigeria in the form of equipment and training and both countries also share lessons learnt in combatting terrorism.
She said America learnt that winning the war on terrorism requires the protection of civilian population and development in impoverished areas where extremism takes root.
It also requires accessible education opportunities for all and a free and fair press that can report openly and without fear of reprisal.
“And perhaps more importantly, it requires viable alternatives for young people who remain vulnerable to the lure of extremism due to lack of opportunities,” she said.
Fighting terrorism, Brewer said, requires civilians and military to work together to defeat the enemy on the battle field and then address the root causes with good ideas and policies.
“Focusing primarily on the the population, rather than the enemy, and reinforcing the legitimacy of governments at the local, state and federal level, reduces the influence of terrorists,” she said.
She added: “American counter-terrorism strategies rest on the assumption that the decisive effort is rarely military, although security is the essential prerequisite for success. “
Brewer, however, hinted that for the United States to fully support Nigerian security efforts, issues of accountability should be addressed.
“The United States stands ready to support Nigeria and its security services as they fulfill those responsibilities with restraint and impartiality. “
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have accused Nigerian military of committing grave human rights abuses as it fights Boko Haram in the Northeast.
Beyond the battle field, Brewer said the U.S. Government, through the Department of State, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and other government agencies, invests substantially in Nigeria in healthcare, strengthening of democracy, the rule of law, economic growth and education.
“We are assisting the Ministry of Justice and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. We are also providing training in counterterrorism and investigative techniques,” she said.
Prof. Akindele Babatunde Oyebode, Nigeria’s renowned professor of International Law at the University of Lagos and a member of the Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs said the refusal of America to help Nigeria militarily has moved the country close to Moscow.
Oyebode wondered why America refuses to sell weapons to Nigeria or use its drones stationed not far away in Niger Republic.
He called for help and support “by those who profess friendship with Nigeria in our moment of travails”.
For Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi of the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARD), Nigeria should address underlining causes to insurgency before success can be achieved.
She said the impact of violence goes beyond loss of lives as the conflicts hold back social and economic development.
“Government should set up a national counter terrorism architecture that will harmonise national counterterrorism efforts,” she recommended during her address.
During questions and answers, as Nigerians accused the United States of letting the country down in the area of terrorism, reduction of poverty and creation of jobs, Brewer said Nigerians should recognise that their country is independent and take responsibilities for their country.