US wants Jonathan to fast-track North-east development plan

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The United States has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to fast-track his development plan for the North Eastern geo-political zone of the country.

US Ambassador to the United Nation, Samantha Power made this known at a meeting with representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria at the USambassador’s residence in Maitama, Abuja.

At the 2nd North-East Economic Summit on Dec. 3, Jonathan announced that the Federal Government was currently evolving an intervention programme specifically targeted at accelerating the pace of socio-economic development in the region.

He, however, noted that the return of peace and security in the zone was essential for the successful implementation of the measures and actions envisaged in the intervention programme.

The visiting US envoy to the UN said “I was pleased to hear President Jonathan’s announcement earlier this month of his development plan for the North-East.

“Efforts to fight poverty, create jobs and respect the dignity and rights of all people will help lay a foundation for longer term progress.

“My government will be urging President Jonathan to fulfill his commitment to implement his plan as soon as possible,’’ she said.

Power, who said she had earlier met with Jonathan and the National Security Adviser, said the U.S. was concerned by “stories of inhumane detention practices in Nigeria’’.

She told reporters that she discussed those issues with Nigeria officials, adding: “security crackdowns that do not discriminate between legitimate targets and innocent civilians are both counterproductive and wrong’’.

“We know how hard it is to fight insurgency and terrorism, but we have also seen how much more effective we are when we put the welfare of the local population at the heart of our efforts.’’

According to her, during the meeting with Nigeria officials, she also discussed Nigeria government’s plans for its 2014-2015 tenure at the UN Security Council.

Power advised civil society groups to advance their views on opportunities at the UN and areas they think the US could be more effective in advancing their work.

She commended the civil society organisations in Nigeria for tirelessly advocating for increased credibility of elections and citizens’ participation in the electoral process.

“You all have also worked to highlight the impact of poor governance and public corruption on the average Nigerian citizen who wants to contribute meaningfully to society.’’

On the build up to the 2015 elections, Power said the US and the world was “watching to see that the coming local and state elections are well-administered, transparent, and credible’’.

She recalled that the US had noted with concern the irregularities in last month’s gubernatorial election in Anambra and assured that they would follow closely next year’s elections in Ekiti and Osun.

She advised the CSOs to lay the groundwork for the 2015 elections by demanding fair campaign practices, raising voter awareness and training as well as participate as poll observers.

“The 2015 election will draw global attention and can – if you push hard enough — prove a model for all of Africa, if they are free, fair, and transparent,’’ she said.

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