*Reiterates US pledge to eradicate forced child marriages, female genital mutilation
The United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, on Thursday urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, strive to diversify the economy, especially with the global reduction in the price of crude oil.
Kerry, who made this disclosure at a meet and greet with staff and families of the United States Embassy in Abuja, also reiterated the commitment of the United States Government in curbing forced child marriages and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
He said, “This is my third trip out here in 20 months, and yesterday President Buhari was very complimentary and thanked me for having come out here during the election, when I met with him and with President Goodluck Jonathan.
“And as President Buhari said, I read them the riot act, quote, about the elections and the imperative of these elections being free and fair and accountable and transparent, and that there not be violence.
” And, indeed, Nigeria had a terrific election with a peaceful change of power, and now a president who is committed to moving this country forward and dealing with corruption, dealing with the economic challenges – obviously, with the price of oil reduced, there’s a huge economic challenge – and also dealing with the challenge of Boko Haram.
“We are making enormous progress in pushing back against Boko Haram, and I came here now to reaffirm the promise of the United States to stand by Nigeria, to help Nigeria. We will win this battle against Boko Haram, promise you. “
On the diversification of resources, he said, “And we will also do everything in our power to help to adjust the economy to a change. No country should be single-resource dominated in its economy, and the lesson is you’ve got to diversify.”
Speaking about FGM and child marriages, he said, ” I just came from an amazing meeting with a group of young women, Nigerian women. We all know – and girls – and we all know that here in Nigeria, there are 6 to 8 million, 10 million girls who aren’t in school.
“And we know the difference that educating young women can make to the capacity to build a future for a country. And I quoted the Egyptian poet Hafez Ibrahim, who said, “educate a woman, you build a nation.”
“That is so true. You cannot have a country that works, leaving half of your population on the sidelines.
“So, we are committed, deeply committed, to helping girls to be able to go to school, to helping girls to be able to have opportunity, to trying to change this notion of forced marriage in childhood – 10, 11, 12 years old – and also trying to deal with the problem of female mutilation, which we really need to see stop.
“So there’s so much on the table here. This is a country that has enormous capacity, enormous potential, and we want to help tap into it.
“I go to a lot of countries; I’ve traveled to more than 80-some countries. I don’t know what the number is now and I’m not tracking it. But in every single one of them, I get a chance to see what is going on and where that country is.
“Some of them, obviously, very developed – when I go to Europe, or nowadays you go to China, Korea, and other countries – they’ve transitioned.
” This is a country yet to fully transition. And so all of you are really part of a critical moment of transformation, and it’s a wonderful thing to be able to work in an embassy and work in a place where our policies are geared to try to help accelerate that transformation and shape that transformation.