To play regional leadership role, Nigeria must overcome Boko Haram –U.S.

•FG starts education system to tackle terrorism


United States (U.S.) government stressed on Thursday that Nigeria must overcome the challenge posed by Boko Haram insurgency to fully achieve its potentials as a stable regional leader.

U.S. Under Secretary, Wendy Sherman said this in Abuja at the second session of the Regional Security Working Group of the Nigeria/US Bi-National Commission Conference.

She also noted that Boko Haram “offers no practical solutions to northern Nigeria’s problems but rather capitalises on popular frustrations, religious differences, and economic and social difficulties, seeking to undermine the government and exploit religious differences in order to create chaos and make Nigeria ungovernable.”

The U.S. official believes that Nigeria cannot fully achieve its potentials as a stable regional leader until it successfully overcomes the challenge of Boko Haram and secures peace and protection for all its citizens in all regions.

“Security efforts are necessary to protect innocent Nigerians, to prevent Boko Haram’s acts of violence, and to capture and prosecute its leaders.

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“The Nigerian government and military must also win over the hearts and minds of northern populations by protecting them and providing timely and commensurate justice to both insurgents and the victims of this unfortunate conflict,” she said.

While agreeing that it is no easy task, she stated that a comprehensive approach that addresses socio-economic problems, articulates clear rules of engagement, and commitment to accountability for those who perpetrate violence, both Boko Haram and security forces, would demonstrate to every Nigerian that their future is brighter in a more secure Nigeria.

Sherman advocated a new social compact with Nigerian citizens that encompasses an economic recovery strategy as a complement to the government’s security strategy.

“Achieving success will not be easy, but we are ready to work with you as one of your strongest and most faithful friends and partners, to discuss new ways of help.

“We stand ready to work together to develop a multi-faceted strategy to counter the threat posed by Boko Haram that also demonstrates to civilians that they will be protected,” she said.

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Meanwhile, Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, has disclosed that the Federal Government would begin special basic education training in the SouthEast and South South geo-political zones to address the problem of illiteracy and low boy child education in the regions as part of efforts aimed at curbing the use of youths in acts of terrorism and other related crimes.

Wike stated this during an interactive forum with civil society organisations on social engagement and educational empowerment of street children, organised by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).

The minister stated that the ‘almajiri’ education system was being treated with priority due to the alarming rate of uneducated children in the North Eastern and North Western parts of the country.

According to him, North East and the North West record the highest number of out of school children and the zones incidentally record the highest rate of insecurity.

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“There is an estimated number of 10.5 million out of school children in Nigeria, out of this number, the North claims 9 million while the North East and the North West claim the highest population; incidentally, this  is also where we are experiencing insecurity in the country,” he said.

Wike noted that basic education, which transcends to the Junior Secondary School, was an exclusive function of the state government, but that it is being complemented by the Federal Government.

“What the Federal Government is doing is to complement the efforts of the various state governments. And we would also have to do this with the support of our traditional institutions,” he added.