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Mr. James Entwistle

Worries about Nigeria breaking up may not be unfounded after all.  The  United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle, during an  interactive session with some journalists in Lagos, said his country,  contrary to misconception, was not preparing  for Nigeria’s breakup.
He said: “I don’t see any sign of a breakup. There is no sign that  Nigeria will breakup. If this country is going to breakup in 2015, to  me, I don’t see any sign of it. You have challenges in this country, but  you are moving forward towards a bright future. There is no issue that  the country might break up.“Yes, your country had a devastating civil war just like my own  country. It almost tore us into two. I think both of our countries have  learnt how difficult it is to hold a country together and that has  certainly been a big factor in my country. The idea that Nigeria is  going to fall apart in the coming months is news to me; I am not sure  where that idea is coming from.”
Entwistle, who assumed duty in Nigeria last November, said Nigeria  parades array of talents and extraordinary creativity that will continue  to make the country an important place in Africa.
“In three months that I have been here, my overwhelming impression is  how smart and intelligent that Nigerians are. After three months, I am  very impressed by the creative spirit of Nigerians as they face  challenges. It is clear there are huge challenges ahead, but we are  committed to help Nigeria.“Every conversation I have on any subject, (I am just coming from a    roundtable discussion on the power sector here), I have really been  impressed by the energy and the drive and I get this sense that Nigerian  people are saying: ‘yes, we have challenges; things we have to deal  with but we can do this. This is our country. We will get this done.’  They appreciate help from outsiders and they just have this very strong  sense of pride that this is our country. We are going to get this  right,” he added.
He urged the federal government to strengthen its coordination efforts  with international organisations and neighbouring countries to stop Boko  Haram insurgency.“Whether it is fighting terror or the war on drugs or any of these  international problems that cut across borders, no one nation can do it  by itself. To really get at Boko Haram, your government needs to  continue working with Cameroun and Chad because these guys cross the  borders. These are guys for whom international borders are largely  meaningless. The only way to deal with these guys is to collaborate with  your neigbours and relevant international organisations.“I think in my conversation with your government and military, I think  there is a growing concern over finding an enemy who mixes with the  civilian population. So, that needs to be a focus,” he said.
He reiterated his country’s commitment to a review of African Growth  and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for inclusion of Nigeria’s value-added  products for export into American market against the current Generalised  System of Preference (GSP) provisions that allow  just oil as export  commodity from Nigeria into America.“We will continue to review AGOA. We will like to see other sectors of  your economy to begin to take advantage of AGOA,” he said.
On the recent law which bans same-sex unions in the country, Entwistle  said gay issue was a controversial one all over the world and that it  was up to Nigeria to define  marriage is.
He, however, expressed worry about certain clause in the law that places restrictions on freedom of assembly.
“As a friend of Nigeria, we are worried that the new law puts  restrictions on freedom of assembly or association. When you start  limiting freedom, it is worrisome,” he said.
Adeola Akinremi

Source: Radio Biafra.

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