Nigeria says global economic forum 'blow to terrorists'
By Rafiu Ajakaye, Thursday, May 08, 2014
ABUJA – Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has thanked world leaders and the international community for the large turnout at the World Economic Forum on Africa, currently underway in capital Abuja.
"As this is the first plenary season of this unique conference, let me use this opportunity to welcome you all to Abuja for this gathering of [the] World Economic Forum," Jonathan said at the official launch session.
"Nigeria is proud to host this event, the first time it is coming to West Africa," he added.
The opening session was attended by no fewer than 13 world leaders and hundreds of top executives and businessmen.
"If you have [had] refused to come because of fear the terrorists would have jubilated and even have committed more havoc," Jonathan said.
"But your coming here to support us morally is a major blow on the terrorists. By God's grace, we will conquer the terrorists," he added.
He thanked the United States, Britain, China and France for offering assistance in Nigeria's search for scores of schoolgirls abducted in the restive Borno State last month by Boko Haram militants.
"Of course, the premier of China has been with us since yesterday on a state visit and the government of China has promised to assist us. I believe that assistance will come almost immediately," Jonathan said.
"The governments of the U.S., Britain and France have also spoken with me and they have expressed their commitment to help us resolve this crisis," he added.
"I believe that the kidnap of these girls will be [the] beginning of [the] end of terror in Nigeria," said the president.
Several world leaders and hundreds of top business executives, entrepreneurs and other influential figures are currently attending the forum, which opened on Wednesday.
Discussions will focus on innovative structural reforms and investment with a view to generating employment and stimulating economic growth in Africa.
Other issues on the agenda include skills creation and the upgrade of public services.
The Nigerian president went on to thank China for its commitment to helping Africa economically.
"Africans are quite happy with China because you have shown serious commitments in assisting Africa in so many ways," he said, addressing Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
"Of course, your speech this afternoon has also shown your commitments," he added.
Earlier today, Li unveiled a number of development initiatives, including an Africa-China Aviation Network to promote regional aviation cooperation.
Stressing that stable energy supplies were key to industrialization, he said China would support power generation in Africa with an initial $10-billion loan.
"This will rise to $30 billion in due course, while we will also help with technical assistance," said Li.
He added that China would help train 80,000 new entrants to the African job market and 20,000 African professionals across the continent.
President Jonathan said he considered the forum's theme – "Forging Inclusive Growth and Creating Jobs" – to be critical to the world, Africa in general and Nigeria in particular.
"The need to create jobs is a global problem," he asserted.
Jonathan said Nigeria under his administration had made employment creation a priority, creating at least 20,000 new jobs under a community empowerment scheme called SURE-P.
He also urged fellow African leaders to rise to the "challenge of inequality, because I believe the poorer and the vulnerable members of the society should be carried along."
He said Nigeria was mulling the possibility of introducing a much-hailed Brazilian social protection model established under former Brazilian president Lula Da Silva, who is a keynote speaker at the forum.
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