The United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, arrived Nigeria today and visited the Palace of the Sultan of Sokoto to discuss counter terrorism efforts in Nigeria.
Speaking at the Palace on Tuesday, Kerry said: “We are honored that Secretary Kerry has not only decided to visit Sokoto, but has opted to speak to our young people on dangers posed by intolerance and violent extremism.
“To start with, Nigeria’s relationship with the United States is a glorious one steeped in history and shared values. As President Muhammadu Buhari pointed out during his last trip to Washington, Nigeria values the special relationship it has with the US, and will work closely with it and other allies to develop governance initiatives whose aim is to ensure that Nigeria’s wealth benefits all its people.
“The election that brought the present administration to power has reaffirmed the confidence of all Nigerians in democracy as a system of government. Since coming to power in May 2015, concerted efforts have been put in place by the present administration to improve the competence and forthrightness of Nigerian institutions.
“More than at any moment in our recent history, we are setting credible ground rules for public officials and recovering stolen funds. At the same time, coordinated efforts are being taken to improve healthcare delivery, build critical infrastructure and enhance national integration”.
The U.S. Secretary of State, further said that the world lost a whopping $2.6 trillion annually to corrupt practices and called for a concerted effort to stem the tide for the interest of humanity.
He said the money being lost to corruption across the world was enough to provide decent livelihood for people.
“This is money that can be used to improve the living standard and provide decent livelihoods for them.
“Corruption is not only a crime, but very dangerous and it must be tamed,” he said.
Kerry however showered praises on President Muhammadu Buhari for his efforts in fighting corruption in Nigeria, naming corrupt elements anywhere in the world as crooks.
He voiced his satisfaction that President Buhari understood the evil of graft in his country and was working tirelessly to stem the tide.
He described Nigeria as a regional leader in the fight against corruption also saying that Nigeria is a role model in the ongoing global efforts to fight corruption and acknowledged measures being taken by the Buhari administration to entrench morality, transparency, honesty and good governance in the country.
The US Secretary of States particularly lauded Nigeria’s efforts at recovering stolen funds, saying that there was need for all government institutions, including the military, other security agencies and the judiciary, to support the anti-corruption drive.
He assured Nigerians that the U.S. was fully committed to fighting corruption and entrenching good governance globally.
Kerry took a swipe at those angling for the split of the country, saying “One of Nigeria’s strength is diversity of culture and religious tolerance.
“The former leaders of the defunct Sokoto Caliphate and others like the late Sir Ahmadu Bello had stood by the virtues of peace, unity and tolerance,” he said.
Kerry also took a swipe at the Boko Haram insurgents, saying that the group had no other agenda than destruction of lives and property.
He said; “Boko Haram boasts no agenda more than to burn schools. “They also kill and maim people, especially teachers, and it is the opposite of any religion.”
He said the U.S. was deeply committed to working with partners like Nigeria to build counter-terrorism capacities, disclosing that his government had worked out counter-terrorism strategies that would be implemented globally.
The envoy further commended the sultan for his relentless efforts at entrenching peace and unity in Nigeria and beyond.
He praised the plan by the sultanate council to establish an all-women university, saying that girls, women, children and other vulnerable groups “must be educated, given jobs and opportunities to explore their potential’’.
The Sultan responded by commending Mr. Kerry for the visit and his inspiring speech saying that the gesture would encourage them to redouble efforts for a stronger, united and prosperous Nigeria.