THE United States (U.S.) and Italy have urged Nigeria to find a solution to the challenge posed by terrorism and other criminal activities to ensure the development of the country.
The U.S. government yesterday expressed worry over what it termed as “heavy-handed tactics” being applied by security forces handling the Boko Haram menace and called on the government to tackle the problem using developmental strategies.
The Special Envoy of the Italian President Margherita Bonver said that issues of terrorism, border control and most especially, zero tolerance of criminality against civilians were the core tasks that Nigeria should address to strengthen cooperation between the two countries on security.
Conferring with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi yesterday in Abuja, Bonver said: “Italy considers bilateral relations with Nigeria with utmost importance. We are ready to partner Nigeria on all of the identified areas. But today we urge your government to apply zero tolerance to criminals and criminality against civilian Nigerians. We are pledging our assistance in this regard.”
The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Terence McCulley who articulated the position of his country urged the Federal Government to work harder on the lapses in the rule of law, corruption as well as the prevailing insecurity in the country as a sure way of attaining economic growth.
McCulley said at the 50th anniversary lecture of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) that the U.S. government was opposed to the use of heavy-handed tactics by security forces taking on those challenges, adding that government needed friends in the North, and a more targeted approach to tackling Boko Haram.
McCulley said: “This is one reason why the U.S. supports the improvement of schools, health programmes and infrastructure in Northern Nigeria as part of a comprehensive approach to the challenges posed by Boko Haram. It is also a reason that the U.S. objects to the use of heavy-handed tactics by security forces taking on those challenges. Nigeria’s government needs friends in the North, and a more targeted approach to tackling Boko Haram combined with better services for Northern citizens can help it attract those friends.”
On solution to the conflict, McCulley added: “I see some similarities between New Yolk in the 1980s and northern Nigerian today. Criminals and terrorists exploited these sentiments and took advantage of a dearth of government’s presence to grow their nefarious organisations.
“Good governance requires a coordinated campaign to address issues like these simultaneously, with a vision for the long-run result that policymakers hope to achieve. Change rarely happens overnight, which is often actually a good thing: it gives… planners to research and evaluate different options to select the best path to prosperity and security.
He added: “Urban revitalisation requires a holistic, long-term approach. If a city fixes its transportation links, but is still ridden with criminals, shoppers will not visit. Likewise, if a city fixes a crime problem, but has no easy means for residents to visit the safe downtown area and no businesses to develop there, it remains at risk of falling back into decline.”
McCulley who feted Nigerian government officials, captains of industry and the diplomatic community to mark the American National Day on Wednesday night in Abuja said there was more to be done to improve the climate for trade and investment in Nigeria.
He quoted President Barrack Obama as saying that “development depends on good governance. … But we all know that there is more to be done to improve the climate for trade and investment in Nigeria. And Nigeria will become more attractive to both domestic and foreign investors by improving the rule of law. By respecting the sanctity of contracts, and ensuring transparency and accountability, Nigerian and international firms can compete on a level playing field, and all of Nigeria will benefit.”