The US officials were led to the meeting by the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary, Mr. William Fitzgerald. The Nigerian delegation was led by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Andrew Azazi (rtd). The Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, Martin Uhomoibhi was also at yesterday’s session.
Speaking at the meeting, Fitzgerald said: “Today marks a new beginning, security issues in the North have taken up a new significance, so we have chosen to split the regional security cooperation and the Niger Delta. The regional security cooperation has its own working group which will meet today (yesterday) and tomorrow (today).
“We are very pleased with these ongoing strategic dialogues. We regard the BNC as a successful platform for visibly and consistently advancing shared U.S. and Nigerian interests in democracy, development, and security. Today marks the recognition of these gains and also a new beginning,” he added.
“I bring on behalf of the US government, the deepest condolences on the heinous attacks that have taken place during the past few days first in Kano and then Bauchi state. We deplore swiftly the reign of terror that has existed in the North of the country for many months. And we stand with you to work together to find a way to bring peace to the North.”
Uhomoibhi said the meeting is based on mutual respect and understanding.
“To us as Nigerians, we do consider it as the basis for developing very close relations based on the implementation of specific programmes in such areas as agriculture, food security, good governance, power, energy and general security issues,” he said.
The meeting, after the formal opening, went into a closed-door session. Azazi spoke on ‘Understanding Extremism in the Nigerian context’. Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima addressed ‘Challenges at the Local level’. Fitzgerald spoke on ‘Political Responses to Security Problems’. United States Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defence Joseph McMillan delivered a paper on ‘Developing Effective and Sustainable Counter-Terrorism Capacity.’