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United States: Nigeria is one of our most important partners

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United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Tuesday participated in a virtual visit to Nigeria, where he met with President Muhammadu Buhari and Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama. Secretary Blinken, President Buhari, and Foreign Minister Onyeama discussed continuing joint efforts to counter terrorism and insecurity, strengthen health systems, support democratic institutions, bolster economic growth, advance gender equality, and boost bilateral trade between the United States and Nigeria. Two fact sheets released on Tuesday by the United States government unveil the gains of U.S.-Nigeria relations:

U.S.-Nigeria relations

With Africa’s largest population, democracy, and economy, Nigeria is one of our most important partners on the continent.

The year 2020 served as an historical benchmark, as Nigerians reflected on the opportunities and challenges the country faces while marking its 60th anniversary of independence and bilateral relations with the United States.

Nigeria is the largest source of immigrants from Africa to the United States, with more than 500,000 Nigerian-born American citizens and legal residents in the U.S.

Pandemic response and health diplomacy

The United States and Nigeria have collaborated closely to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 60 interagency members from the U.S. Mission worked side-by-side with Nigerian counterparts on the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to plan and respond to the disease.

The United States has contributed more than $73 million in COVID-related equipment and technical assistance. This includes the delivery of a mobile field hospital, 200 ventilators, epidemiological COVID detection surveys, personal protective equipment, provision of rapid response teams, training of over 200,000 military and civilian personnel on COVID-19 control measures, and technology transfer for virtual training.

Ongoing U.S. health programs reach more than 60 million Nigerians with lifesaving services, including by training public health workers and improving access to quality medicines, vaccines, medical facilities, and reproductive health materials.

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has worked with the Government of Nigeria since 2004 to provide HIV and TB care and treatment services, with a momentum propelling Nigeria toward epidemic control within two years. As of December 2020, more than 1.2 million people receive PEPFAR-supported HIV treatment, and our partners placed 350,000 new patients on lifesaving antiretrovirals despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since 1997, the United States has directly supported polio surveillance and polio campaigns that reached nearly all of Nigeria’s 33 million children under 5 years of age, contributing to Nigeria being certified as wild polio-virus free in 2020.

Since 2011, the President’s Malaria Initiative has procured more than 60 million insecticide-treated nets, 46 million rapid diagnostic test kits, 87 million treatment courses for malaria, and 20 million doses of malaria prophylaxis during pregnancy, as part of over $690 million contributed to malaria control in Nigeria.

Nigeria is a key U.S. partner in the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). The mission approved $3.4 million in FY 2020 GHSA funding for capacity building programs to strengthen zoonotic surveillance labs, infection-prevention control, antimicrobial resistance, and risk communication.

Bilateral economic engagement

Nigeria is our second largest trading partner in Africa; two-way trade between our nations expanded to over $10 billion in 2019. The United States is proud to be one of the largest foreign investors in Nigeria. S. support for economic growth includes funding $8.5 million in feasibility studies and technical assistance in 2020-2021, extending loan guarantees worth up to $80 million, and coordinating development finance in important sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, renewable energy, and information and communication technology. These activities support bilateral trade and investment ties while building more modern and sustainable infrastructure across Nigeria.

Through Feed the Future, the United States supports private sector expansion of markets, as well as the introduction of techniques to increase productivity, strengthen resilience, and improve nutrition for more than two million farmers and their communities.

Since its launch in 2013, Power Africa has mobilized $4.3 billion in financing and connected nearly two million households and businesses in Nigeria. Power Africa helps to attract private sector investment and supports the rollout of both on-grid and renewable off-grid electricity connections in order to spur economic growth and reduce poverty.

Educational and cultural exchanges

With over 100,000 travelers to the United States each year, Nigerians boost American businesses, colleges, and universities. There are over 8,800 education and exchange program alumni from Nigeria and the United States.

Nigeria sends more students to American colleges and universities than any other country in Africa and is the eleventh largest source worldwide of international students to the United States. In Academic Year 2019-2020, a record-breaking number of nearly 14,000 Nigerians pursued U.S. graduate and undergraduate degrees, bringing an estimated $501 million to communities across America. In 2020, advisees of EducationUSA services received scholarships worth $28 million.

The United States provided more than 9 million teacher’s guides and books in five of Nigeria’s most widely spoken languages to advance early grade reading.

Striving for peace and security

Northeast Nigeria has become one of the world’s most challenging and complex humanitarian crises. The United States is the largest humanitarian donor in response to the crisis, providing $1.45 billion since 2015 and supporting almost two million conflict-affected households.

Since 2017, Department of State and Department of Defense security assistance for Nigeria totals approximately $650 million, including $500 million in Foreign Military Sales. The United States looks forward to delivering twelve A-29 Super Tucano aircraft this year. Nigeria also has one of the largest International Military-Education and Training (IMET) programs in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The United States promotes strong and broad collaboration between government and civil society at all levels, including civil society organizations led by women and members of marginalised groups. We also support the establishment of robust early warning systems to identify and mitigate drivers of communal conflict and violence in vulnerable states.

We provide technical assistance, and train and equip law enforcement and judiciary professionals to address a wide range of priorities, ranging from stopping banditry to protecting intellectual property rights to more effectively addressing trafficking in persons and gender-based violence. Law enforcement programming focuses on building capacity for civilian security actors, particularly the Nigeria Police Force.

As the Gulf of Guinea has become the world’s hotspot for piracy and armed robbery at sea, Nigeria has stepped up efforts to stem this problem, including a new initiative, Deep Blue, consisting of vessels, shoreside infrastructure, and personnel that can be dispatched to respond to piracy incidents. It is expected to become operational by mid-2021. U.S. efforts to stem piracy in the Gulf of Guinea help to strengthen maritime governance, enable the development of sustainable, maritime-based economies, and protect international maritime commerce.

Young African Leaders Initiative

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is the U.S. government’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders.  Since 2010, YALI has graduated more than 24,000 alumni from the Mandela Washington Fellowship exchange program and its four Regional Leadership Centers (RLCs) located across the continent, while membership in the online YALI Network community numbers over 700,000.

YALI alumni have risen to high-ranking leadership positions in the public and private sectors and been recognized with international awards.  Five alumni have held or currently hold cabinet-level positions, a Ghanaian Fellowship alumnus and Kenyan RLC alumna won first and second prize in Africa.com’s 2020 Brilliant African Innovations Against COVID-19 Competition, and a Somali Fellowship alumna was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.

United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken yesterday participated in a virtual visit to Nigeria, where he met with President Muhammadu Buhari and Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama.  Secretary Blinken, President Buhari, and Foreign Minister Onyeama discussed continuing joint efforts to counter terrorism and insecurity, strengthen health systems, support democratic institutions, bolster economic growth, advance gender equality, and boost bilateral trade between the United States and Nigeria. Two fact sheets released yesterday by the United States government unveil the gains of U.S.-Nigeria relations:

With a population of 1.3 billion people whose median age is 19 years old, Africa’s youth are one of the continent’s most important resources.  YALI, along with other U.S.-sponsored people-to-people initiatives, showcases the U.S. government’s commitment to strengthening the ties among the people of the United States and Africa.  Through its programs, YALI promotes effective public administration; fosters networks that connect people; creates conditions for peace, prosperity, and security; and provides investment opportunities for U.S. businesses.

  • Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders: Launched in 2014, this flagship program brings 700 Fellows aged 25-35 to the United States each year to participate in six-week Leadership Institutes, studying Business, Civic Engagement, or Public Management at U.S. colleges or universities. During their time on campus, Fellows connect with Americans and enrich local U.S. communities while sharing best practices.  The Reciprocal Exchange component provides opportunities for Americans to travel to Africa to work with Fellowship Alumni on issues of importance to both the United States and Africa while contributing to U.S. public diplomacy efforts.
  • Regional Leadership Centers: Managed by the United States Agency for International Development, the RLCs provide YALI’s signature on-continent leadership and professional development training experiences at higher education institutions in Nairobi, Kenya; Dakar, Senegal; Accra, Ghana; and Pretoria, South Africa. Since 2015, they have provided more than 20,000 young leaders aged 18-35 with?state-of-the-art leadership training in three tracks: public management, civic engagement, and business and entrepreneurship.  The RLCs leverage resources from the private sector, both U.S. and African companies, and serve as a place for regional collaboration. They offer training primarily in English, with some offerings in French and Portuguese.
  • YALI Network: The YALI Network is a virtual community of more than 700,000 members across Sub-Saharan Africa.  Through its digital campaigns, the YALI Network develops members’ capacity to advocate for U.S. policy priorities in a local context.  To support these campaigns, the Network’s website provides vital online resources, content, and courses.  In addition to online activities, campaigns inspire offline advocacy by encouraging members to lead service activities and to hold “YALILearns” events, during which members facilitate community dialogues on policy-focused campaign topics.

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JOHESU, AHPA issue fresh 15 days nationwide strike notice

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The Joint Health Sector Unions and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations have issued a fresh 15 days strike notice.

This followed an unanimously resolution adopted by the two groups to step down the notice of strike due to expire midnight September 17 and issue a fresh notice of 15 days.

It would be recalled that the union had on September 2 issued the Federal Government a 15 days ultimatum to meet its demands or embark on nationwide strike at the expiry date.

The JOHESU Acting General Secretary, Chief Matthew Ajorutu, said this in a communique issued at the end of an Expanded National Executive Council emergency meeting of the union via Zoom and physical attendance on Friday in Abuja.

The expanded NEC had the Presidents and General Secretaries of affiliate unions and professional associations, NEC members of affiliate unions and JOHESU Chairmen and Secretaries at the state and branch levels.

Ajorutu said that NEC-in-session had critically appraised the reports of JOHESU negotiation and conciliation meetings with the Federal Government since the declaration of the trade dispute through the 15 days strike notice issued on September 2.

He said that NEC also noted the appeal from President Muhammadu Buhari on the need to show understanding with his administration and the President’s pledge to pay any debt owed health workers.

He said that NEC also received and examined reports of congresses held at various health facilities across the country on the mobilisation for the strike action due to commence at midnight on September 18.

According to Ajorutu, NEC, after long hours of exhaustive deliberations on issues surrounding the planned industrial action, resolved that the Federal Ministry of Health should ensure speedy circularisation of all establishment and welfare matters as agreed during negotiation meetings.

He said: “The Federal Government should ensure that the new data for the computation of the adjusted Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) for JOHESU members be completed and submitted to the ‘High Level Body (HLB)’ of the FG not later than Wednesday, September 22, as agreed.

“NEC-in-session urges the Federal Government to ensure that the High Level Body (HLB) complete and submit the computation of the adjusted CONHESS for inclusion in the 2022 budget within the September 30th, submission window.

“NEC urges the Federal Government to reciprocate the patriotic humanitarian gesture of JOHESU in the interest of the larger Nigerian masses to expeditiously resolve all the demands within the fifteen days window.

“Finally, NEC-in-Session unanimously adopts a resolution to step down the notice of strike action due to expire mid-night September 17, and issue a fresh notice of fifteen days.”

The communique further said that NEC commended all members for their commitment and understanding towards the struggle for better working conditions, improved healthcare services and social justice for all.

Eagle Online

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Defection: Gumi knocks Fani-Kayode, calls him ‘Judas of Oduduwa’

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Popular Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has described Femi Fani-Kayode as the ‘Judas of Oduduwa’ following his defection from the opposition party (PDP) to the All Progressive Congress (APC).

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Gumi wrote:

“I have for long, neglected the rantings of the Judas of Oduduwa attacking me knowing fully well that he is fake and a traitor.

“Time has now caught up with him and thanks to Allah, all his vituperations are cast in the dustbin of merciless history.

“It is him now, one wonders which of the seven circles of hell this duper will settle if he doesn’t repent.”

Recall that the Fani-Kayode, a former minister of aviation under President Olusegun Obasanjo, berated those fronting for bandits and terrorists in the country. Though he never mentioned names but his rhetorics suggested he was referring to Sheikh Gumi.

On joining the APC, Fani-Kayode, however, said that he was moved by the Spirit to defect from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the APC, pointing out that he was a founding member of the ruling party.

Arogbonlo Israel,Vanguard News Nigeria

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BDCs funding Boko Haram, kidnappings, says CBN governor

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has accused operators of Bureaux de Change (BDC) of funding terrorism and kidnapping in the country.

Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, stated this in Abuja on Friday after the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting.

He also vowed that CBN would not rescind its decision to ban the sale of foreign exchange to the BDCs.

Emefiele said the CBN had resolved to stop funding the BDCs in the name of stabilising the forex market.

He said, “We have decided that this will stop and it has stopped for good. It beats my imagination that Nigeria carried on with this kind of practice that tended to support illegal activities of people who are involved in graft and involved in corrupt practices.”

He also said, “We have unwittingly supported activities of those who illegally buy foreign exchange from this illegal market, carry them in aircraft out of the country and go to buy arms and ammunition and bring them back into the country and conduct crime whether it is Boko Haram, kidnapping or all sorts of nefarious activities.

“We the CBN take our country’s dollar and sell to people to go and buy arms ammunition to come and hurt us. That is what we are saying that people want us to continue to do. We cannot do that any longer.”

He told bank customers with legitimate requests for forex exceeding the official limit that “your bank will speak to us and we will give you what is even more than the limit. We will continue to monitor the banks.

“We conducted a study, one of the banks sold in one day forex to 52 people who wanted to travel. After two weeks, they went to check, 40 out of the 52 had cancelled their tickets. They will have to return the forex or we will pursue you if you are involved in this nefarious activity. We are not going to go back there again.”

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