Kerry Announces $600 Million Development Fund For Nigeria, Agrees Forming Working Groups

By Staff Writer

Apr 01, 2016 11:07 PM EDT

The US and Nigeria have agreed on Wednesday to form working groups focused on strengthening bilateral security and economic cooperation and abetting corruption. The agreement has been reached following day-long talks at the State Department. The two countries have also announced through a joint statement that the groups would finalize its goals within a month.

Wednesday's meetings have been launched by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Nigerian foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama. Both countries have acknowledged security threats posed by Boko Haram militants in the northeast and neighboring countries. They have also discussed the ongoing tough economic situation caused by historic low crude oil prices, reports Reuters.

Kerry has reiterated the US commitment in helping Nigeria to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency. However, he has cautioned security forces to avoid human rights abuse despite stepping up the fight against jihadi groups pledging allegiance to the Islamic State (IS).

Nigeria has been advancing the fight against Boko Haram under the leadership of President Buhari. The country has already reduced Boko Haram's capacity for launching full scale attacks. The group still poses serious threat to the entire region, cautions Jakarta Globe quoting Kerry.

The largest economy in Africa has been witnessing the worst economic crisis during the last consecutive years pegged due to tumbling in global oil prices. The economy has recorded a meager 2.8% growth in 2015, the lowest recorded pace over a decade, according to a report published in AfricaNews.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has announced working to diversify the country's economy following the weakest growth. However, the US Secretary of State has applauded Buhari's commitment to the country's economy during the bilateral discussion with the Nigerian foreign minister.

The US has virtually halted its cooperation during the regime of Buhari's predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan. The former Nigerian President has refused to investigate corruption and human rights abuses by the Nigerian army. The denial has led US authorities closing fingers in abetting militancy.

The US has been encouraged with Buhari's commitment for diversifying Nigeria's economy while reducing dependence on oil, cites the US Secretary of States. He has also stressed the need of ensuring investment-friendly environment and announced a $600 million development assistance for the Africa's largest economy.

However, the joint statement contains no mention on Nigeria's foreign exchange rate. The US alleges Nigeria for adopting rigid exchange rate which discourages the investors. The issue may be discussed during Wednesday's talks with President Buhari.

Nigerian economy has been tumbling since the last consecutive years following historic low crude oil prices. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has announced diversifying the country's economy through reducing its dependence on oil. Encouraged with Buhari's efforts, the US has reiterated its economic and security support to Nigeria in combating militancy. 

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