October 19th, White House, Washington DC—National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice met with a group of Nigerian governors from the northern and middle belt of the country to discuss significant issues peculiar both to the United States and Nigeria.
Below is a summary of the closed-door meeting, according to the U.S National Security Council Spokesperson, Ned Price :
“They discussed the importance of strong and inclusive governance as the region works to confront security threats, including from Boko Haram—now known as ISIL’s West Africa Province—and from clashes among ethnic, religious, and other groups in Nigeria. They also discussed how to strengthen collaboration on a faster and more effective response to the humanitarian crisis in northeast Nigeria as well as the importance of meeting the needs of the internally displaced and their host-communities. Finally, the group exchanged ideas for strengthening Nigeria’s economy and creating educational and employment opportunities for the millions of young people eager to contribute to the region’s growth. Ambassador Rice underscored the United States’ strong partnership with Nigeria at every level of government and deep and longstanding support for the Nigerian people.”
The governors also held closed door meeting with U.S Secretary of State, John Kerry, at the State department in DC and with Gayle Smith of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) at the Ronald Reagan building.In sum, the governors are in Washington to attend a three day U.S Institute of Peace Symposium (USIP) from Oct. 18-20, their trip itinerary includes meeting with more U.S. officials as well as business leaders to discuss Nigeria’s development and investment opportunities in the northern region, consider causes and solutions to violent extremism and the economic development issues the country is facing. According to USIP, When they return home, the governors will coordinate with a Senior Working Group of Nigerian civic, business and other leaders that USIP has helped establish to assist with implementing ideas coming out of the symposium..
According to USIP’s Senior Advisor Johnnie Carson, Nigeria was the biggest economy in Africa until plummeting oil prices knocked it into second place. Now, Africa’s second-largest economy is in recession this year. The northern states at its poorest, beset by social, economic and environmental problems caused the instability giving rise to the extremist Boko Haram group, USIP says “the governors have the clout to begin tackling them.” “For the governors, the priorities include immediate reconstruction of schools, hospitals, and water systems as Boko Haram is pushed back, leaving behind a humanitarian disaster; expanded educational opportunities for girls; economic development; and easing tensions between farmers and herdsmen over land use.”
Reports say that over 2 million people in the northeast have fled their homes and need to be returned or resettled. According to the United Nations, in Borno State, Nigeria, the state most affected by Boko Haram, 240,000 children are suffering from severe malnutrition and across the northeast about 4.5 million need food aid. Published by the Institute for Economics and Peace and according to the Global Terrorism Index, In 2014, Boko Haram ranked as the world’s deadliest extremist group, killing 6,644 people. The group got international awareness in 2014 when it kidnapped hundreds of young girls which sparked a civic movement called #BringBackOurGirls. Under Buhari, 21 of those girls were recently released
Governors can play a crucial role in improving conditions of the nation as a whole, they have extensive fiscal, territorial, security and legal powers. They also control the allocation of certain federal revenue that accounts for about half of all government spending, according to USIP Senior Program Officer, Africa Programs Oge Onubogu.
The work with governors is part of a broader USIP program to get to the roots of violent conflict in Nigeria that also includes strengthening interfaith cooperation and the ability of young people to hold authorities accountable. Nigeria’s youth population is due to expand by 60 percent in the next 15 years, according to a United Nations report. -USIP.org
The current recession in Nigeria is draining civil society’s day-to-day living, businesses and other national affairs. Individuals can log on to the U.S. Institute of Peace for a webcast discussion on October 20 with governors from states across the northern region of Nigeria on what they and their citizens can do to address these and other challenges. Participating governors will take questions via Twitter. October 20, 2016 – 9:00am