“Drug Cartels and Boko haram”: Here are the highlights of the African Policy Breakfast 2016

During the “African Policy” Breakfast which held on the 9th of February at the US Congress, Washington D.C, USA, key issues about insecurity, especially Boko Haram in Nigeria and its neighbours were discussed, with various high-ranking US officials and members of the US Congress in attendance. Some important figures at this meeting included the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield; US Congresswoman and Ranking Member of the House Africa-Sub-Committee, Karen Bass; Ambassador Reuben Brigety, former US ambassador to the African Union;e.t.c. Nigerians were also represented by Dr. Sam Okey Mbonu, Director of the Nigerian-American Leadership (NAL) Council and other members of the council.

Here are some of the key issues that were discussed at the meeting:

The need for Africa to demand for better governance from its leaders

Cross-section of US Policy-Makers-audience                                     Credit: Nigerian-American Leadership Council

Ambassador Reuben Brigety spoke on how Africans need to demand for more from its leaders. He said the “complacency of the governed” contributes greatly to bad governance and corruption. Nigeria, which is the 32nd most corrupt nation, out of 168 nations in the world for 2015, has seemingly found its voice as people have started coming out en-masse to protest against corruption.

Drug Cartels and Boko Haram

Ambassador Reuben Brigety, Dr. Raymond Gilpin of US National Defense University, and Sam Okey Mbonu of NAL Council, US                                                                                                           Credit: NAL Council

Dr. Raymond Gilpin, Dean of the US National Defense University, proposed that Nigeria should study the Colombian method as a model in the fight against Boko Haram. The said Colombian method is the “Plan Colombia”, which was a series of both joint military and non-military programmes between the American government and the Colombian government, to get rid of the numerous drug cartels and insurgent groups in Colombia. However, unlike Boko Haram, many Colombians believe the far-right insurgent groups to be part of the political history of Colombia. It remains to be seen if Nigeria would adopt this model.

The extent of the support for Africa by Africans in Diaspora

US Secretary of State for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield                  Credit: NAL Council

The Director of the Nigerian-American Leadership Council, Sam Okey Mbonu, speaking for Nigerians in diaspora, tasked the US by asking for their input on policies about Africa and Nigeria. He also said the diaspora provides $21 billion monetary support to the victims of Boko Haram annually, a policy the United States could do well to copy. He, however, warned the Nigerian leaders to be careful with the agitation for Biafra before it escalates to levels that cannot be controlled.

He also called for more inclusivity from Nigeria’s federal government especially at this time when it has economic and security problems. Only through this can the true potential of Nigeria be actualized.

Kidnapped Chibok girls

(left) US Congresswoman Karen Bass, (c) US Assist Secretary of State for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield                                                                                                                                                           Credit: NAL Council

There were calls for the US and the international community to keep being updated on the occurences in Nigeria’s north-east region, until a solution can be found to the Boko Haram insurgency. The search for over 200 girls kidnapped in Chibok village, Nigeria by Boko Haram since 2014 was called “a matter of disrepute on Nigeria” by Congresswoman Karen Bass. Congresswoman Fredricka Wilson maintained that the girls must be found, for it would signify that there is significant progress in the war against Boko Haram.

About NAL Council

“Nigerian-American Leadership Council (www.nalcouncil.org) is a Washington-based think-tank that is focused on Nigeria and on US-Nigeria relations. The Council has been featured and cited in major US Media network in the US and Overseas; and provided expert testimony on US-Nigeria relations at various Washington Institutions. The Council has been adjudged by the US Media, as “An Important Voice” on US-Nigeria Affairs (MSNBC February 14, 2015).”

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