Nigeria, US Partnership Vital For Development – Osinbajo

The partnership between Nigeria and the United States is one that would continue to produce mutually desirable results for both countries, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Friday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, when he received the Administrator of the US Agency on International Development (USAID), Mr Mark Green who is currently on a visit to Nigeria.

Noting that the US is one of Nigeria’s most dependable development partners, the Vice President said the Nigerian government was grateful for the interventions in the areas of health, humanitarian issues and education.

While stating the commitment of the Buhari administration to improve the country’s education sector, and the President’s resolve to enforce free and compulsory basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age; Prof. Osinbajo noted that a lot more can be done with cooperation between both countries.

He said, “This is an area where Mr. President particularly has a personal commitment. On June 20th, in a meeting with State Governors, he made the point that we are going to enforce a nine-year free and compulsory basic education for children. He felt that this was not just a moral obligation, but, of course, to educate and develop future generations, especially female children.

The Vice President said there could be more cooperation in the area of teacher training, skills development, child education, especially girl-child education, among other interventions in the education sector.

Prof. Osinbajo also highlighted the need for more development partnerships in the areas of improving the country’s power sector and security, noting that the Federal Government has been putting a significant amount of work in developing renewable energy and providing solar power in rural areas and other parts of the country.

According to him, “In the power sector, we find that renewable energy is an area we want to do more in. And in many parts of the country, we find that solar power would be advantageous for us, and we’re trying to do a lot in that area. The Power grid itself has had various challenges. We think the fastest growth, especially in rural areas is solar power. In that respect, we’ve done a fair amount of work.”

While acknowledging US military assistance, the VP noted that the Federal Government would also welcome more cooperation in tackling humanitarian challenges in the North East of the country.

In his remarks, Green; who was accompanied by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, said the US and Nigeria have a deep friendship based on shared values and shared priorities. He described as admirable President Muhammadu Buhari’s personal commitment to ensuring compulsory free education for Nigerian children, stating the US looks forward to working with the Nigerian government on developing its education sector, tackling security challenges and improving economic indices.

He said, “We have particular interest in continuing our very strong partnership in providing humanitarian assistance, particularly in areas in the North; working together on economic opportunities, particularly in rural areas; creating strong sustainable futures for farmers and herders; and looking for ways to tackle some of the challenges that we both see in building lives and communities.”

Earlier in the day, the Vice President also received a delegation from the Andrew J. Young Foundation, led by civil rights activist and former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew J. Young.

The Vice President described Young as one of the major icons in the US civil rights movement.
The VP noted that Young has played “very important roles in the life of our nation and influencing positively many of our leaders.”

In his remarks, Young commended the Buhari administration for “being able to hold this country together in spite of the differences” and ensuring democracy prevailed.

Young, who worked with the late Martin Luther King Jnr., was accompanied by Ambassador Howard Jeter, Sir Emeka Offor and Senator Ken Nnamani.


Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
23rd August, 2019

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Visa Restrictions Not Targeted At Members Of Buhari Government – US

The US state department has said that its visa restriction move is not targetted at the newly elected President Muhammadu Buhari government.

It said in a statement that it was only directed at some Nigerians who were involved in trying to undermine democracy in recent elections in the country

Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said: “These individuals have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights.

“The Department of State emphasizes that the actions announced today are specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people or the newly elected government.”

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U.S, NGOs Call For Concerted Action on Marine Wildlife Conservation

In commemoration of 2019 World Wildlife Day, the United States Consulate General in Lagos on Tuesday held a program in collaboration with the International Climate Change Development Initiative (ICCDI) and Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative.

Delivering remarks at the event attended by leading environmental conservation activists, Public Affairs Officer of the U.S. Consulate General Lagos, Mr. Russell Brooks, urged Nigerians to treat the conservation of the oceans and aquatic wildlife as an individual responsibility, in order to preserve marine habitats for future generations.

Brooks, speaking on the theme of Life below Water, observed that as much as 40% of the world’s oceans are negatively affected by human activity, including overexploitation of marine species, loss of coastal habitats and pollution. He highlighted the crucial importance of the oceans and marine species to human development and emphasized the necessity for increased conservation education.

“Marine wildlife has sustained human civilization and development for over a thousand years, from providing food and nourishment, to providing material for handicrafts and construction. We cannot take their survival for granted.   We can reduce some of the negative effects of our activity on life under the water, by working hard to spread the message to reduce marine pollution.” Brooks said.

Delivering welcoming remarks earlier, the Communications Director at ICCDI, Mr. Abiodun Adekoya, noted that effective climate change mitigation in the country would require concerted action by governments and individuals, with an emphasis on conservation education, recycling programs and the creation of a legal framework for the nation’s policy on the environment.

World Wildlife Day is observed annually on March 3, following a proclamation by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 December 2013.

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U.S. Designates Boko Haram, ISIS ‘Entities Of Particular Concern’

The United States has announced the designation of the Boko Haram terrorist group as an entity “of particular concern”.

The U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in a statement, designated Boko Haram alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al-Qa’ida and al-Shabab.

Pompeo also designated Saudi Arabia, Iran, Burma, North Korea, among “countries of particular concern”, while Comoros, Russia, and Uzbekistan were placed on “special watch list”.

“On November 28, 2018, I designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated ‘systematic, ongoing, (and) egregious violations of religious freedom.

“I also placed Comoros, Russia, and Uzbekistan on a Special Watch List for governments that have engaged in or tolerated ‘severe violations of religious freedom.

“Finally, I designated al-Nusra Front, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qa’ida, al-Shabab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Khorasan, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern,” Pompeo said.

The U.S. top diplomat regretted that in far too many places across the globe, individuals continue to face harassment, arrests, or even death for simply living their lives in accordance with their beliefs.

Pompeo said: “The United States will not stand by as spectators in the face of such oppression.

“Protecting and promoting international religious freedom is a top foreign policy priority of the Trump Administration.

“In July, I hosted the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, which brought together some 85 like-minded governments and more than 400 civil society organisations to harness global attention and motivate forceful action to advance respect for the human right of religious freedom”.

According to him, safeguarding religious freedom is vital to ensuring peace, stability, and prosperity.

“These designations are aimed at improving the lives of individuals and the broader success of their societies.

“I recognise that several designated countries are working to improve their respect for religious freedom; I welcome such initiatives and look forward to continuing the dialogue.

“The United States remains committed to working with governments, civil society organisations, and religious leaders to advance religious freedom around the world,” Pompeo said.

The Boko Haram terrorist activities have claimed thousands of people’s lives, and affected millions of families, leaving behind huge humanitarian crises, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“The humanitarian crisis in North East Nigeria that has spilled into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, is one of the most severe in the world today.

“In North East Nigeria, 10 years of conflict has left more than seven million people in dire need of help in the three worst-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

“About 1.8 million people are internally displaced. People need food, water, shelter and health services,” the UN agency said.

NAN

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U.S. Ambassador Brownback Urges Nigerians To Strengthen Ethno-Religious Tolerance

The U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Samuel Brownback, has urged Nigerian political office holders, representatives of civil society and religious leaders to avoid amplifying ethno-religious tension in the country and to focus on peacebuilding.

At a one-day national youth dialogue on ethno-religious tolerance organized by the U.S Consulate General Lagos, in partnership with the African Youths Initiative for Crime Prevention (AYICRIP), Ambassador Brownback, who met with a group of religious leaders during a recent visit to Nigeria in June, commended increased inter-faith engagement and dialogue in Nigeria, but noted that the country can do more to protect citizens’ right to religious freedom.

“When I visited Nigeria in June, I met with communities from all different faiths located all over the country and heard about how interfaith groups and people from every religion have come together to begin stopping the violence at the community level, which is a great starting point,”  Brownback said.

“However, we need to do better than just achieving tolerance; we need to truly care for each other. The people who stand for peace do not do this because they are from the same ethnic group, or because they share a common religion.  They believe the lives of everyone are sacred,” he added.

U.S. Consul General John Bray, who opened the event, reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to supporting initiatives that promote peace and admonished Nigerians to ensure that cyclical communal violence does not threaten national unity.

“Each of us has a role to play in tamping down tensions between communities of all kinds,” Bray noted.

“It is in your hands to ensure that this tragic violence does not descend into broader ethnic and religious fighting, and a cycle of reprisals.  We must all make sure that the fighting does not eat away at the fabric of Nigeria, the multi-religious and multiethnic tolerance that makes this a great and unified nation,” he concluded.

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President Trump To Redesign Air Force One

United States President, Donald Trump has said he is redesigning the presidential planes of Air Force One in red, white and blue.

Trump stated this in Scotland over the weekend.

According to him, the new plane would be largely for ”future presidents” due to how long it will take to build.

The new redesign “is going to be incredible,” “top of the line”, and “top in the world.”

“You’re gonna have many presidents, hopefully, use it and enjoy it,”Mr Trump said.

“Boeing gave us a good deal…But I said, ‘I wonder if we should use the same baby blue colours?’ And we’re not,” he stated.

Former President John F Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy selected the current colour scheme in the 1960s.

 

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Many Benefits of President Buhari’s Visit, By Chukwudi Enekwechi

With the recent visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to the United States at the behest of President Donald Trump, Nigeria is once again returning to global reckoning and applause. Firstly, it is important to acknowledge that the trip threw up a lot of positives about Nigeria, and this was adequately acknowledged by the United States President Donald Trump.

 Apart from boosting Nigeria- US bilateral relations, the trip offered an opportunity for the Nigerian community in the United States to warmly welcome President Buhari and praised him for the good job he is doing back home. It is also common knowledge that President Buhari used the opportunity of the visit to seek for the economic growth of the country as he met with some potential investors and business leaders in various sectors like agriculture, ICT among others.

 Based on the reactions across the world on the US visit, it was obvious that President Buhari has earned the confidence of the global community as amplified by the eulogies President Trump heaped on him for fighting corruption and terrorism in Nigeria. From his disposition, it was evident that President Trump considers Buhari as a reliable partner in realising the goals of eradicating corruption and terrorism across the globe.

For example, bearing in mind the sincerity that President Buhari has brought to bear in the fight against official graft and governance generally, the United States President obliged to assist Nigeria repatriate $500Million that was stolen from Nigeria and stashed in the United States and other jurisdictions across the world. Already the two countries’ attorneys general have swung into action to actualise the return of the slush fund to Nigeria.

Similarly, the resolve of the United States to offer assistance in the areas of training, military assistance and the sale of Tucano jets to Nigeria is a demonstration of their inherent faith in the Buhari administration, and this calls for celebration by Nigerians. It is also worthy of mention that the president was able to boost Nigeria’s trade with the US as well as opened opportunities in the aviation sector. For example the United States Boeing Company is in a discussion with the Nigerian government on ways to bring back our national airline.

Furthermore, President Buhari during the trip signed a historic interim agreement which will enable a consortium led by the General Electric to invest about $2Billion in the Nigeria railways sector with the upgrade of the narrow gauge line. This agreement will also facilitate the availability of two hundred wagons and ten coaches to boost Nigeria railways operations.

It was also the finest hour for Nigeria as President Trump acknowledged Nigeria’s leadership role as frontline democratic country in Africa. President Buhari’s superlative performance in the fight against corruption and terrorism also came into focus as he received deserving ovation from President Trump.

These recognitions coming from a United States President is a great boost to Nigeria’s image, and will no doubt boost the confidence of the international community, especially foreign investors in making Nigeria their preferred destination.

The applause which President Buhari’s visit to the United States attracted to Nigeria is a welcome development considering that corruption and insecurity had greatly eroded the goodwill of Nigeria across the globe, and all hands must be on deck to support the President.

President Buhari’s committed leadership has opened a window of opportunity for Nigerians to reclaim their country from the thieving set of looters who devoured our resources and left the country bleeding. There is no gainsaying that prudent management of scarce national resources will play a significant role in delivering the democracy dividends to Nigerians.

Having assumed office in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari is still focussed on restoring the pride of Nigeria, especially with the huge investment on the country’s infrastructure like roads, railways, power and housing. There is no doubt that in the fullness of time Nigerians will reap bountifully from his people-oriented programmes and policies.

Nigerians therefore have a reason to repose confidence in the Buhari administration as his antecedents in following through with his promises are well known.  If all the projects already awarded are completed, and this can only happen over a period of eight years definitely Nigeria will be on the path to rejuvenation.

It is also remarkable that the United States has pledged to support Nigeria in different ways including training of the armed forces personnel, selling of the Tucano jets to combat Boko Haram terrorists and providing other relevant equipment.

These commitments actually reflect the confidence the Trump administration has reposed in President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigerians have cause to celebrate it. The trip to the United States by President Muhammadu Buhari is therefore a win-win for both countries.

By Chukwudi Enekwechi

An Abuja-Based Journalist

Kwechis19@yahoo.com

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Buhari Leaves Abuja For US Saturday

President Muhammadu Buhari will Saturday leave Abuja for Washington DC, capital of the United States of America, where according to the presidency, he will have bilateral meeting with President Donald Trump and a working lunch on Monday.

A statement by the Special Adviser to the President(Media and Publicity) Femi Adesina said the meeting is to discuss ways to enhance the strategic partnership between the two countries and to advance shared priorities, such as: promoting economic growth, fighting terrorism and other threats to peace and security.

Adesina said the meeting would further deepen the US-Nigeria relationship as the United States considers Nigeria’s economic growth, security and leadership in Africa to be critical aspects of their strategic partnership.

”Ahead of the visit by President Buhari, meetings have been scheduled on 26th and 27th April, 2018, between senior Nigerian Government officials and executives of major US companies in the areas of agriculture, aviation and transportation.”

”In the area of aviation, the Nigerian officials will be meeting with Boeing, the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world, on the National Carrier Project.” He said.

The Presidential aide also explained that in the area of  agriculture, they will meet with large equipment manufacturers with focus on harvesting and post harvesting equipment.

Adesina said a substantive concession agreement would be negotiated and finalized to provide the consortium the opportunity to invest an estimated $2bn, to modernize the rail line from Lagos to Kano (Western Line) and from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri (Eastern Line).  During the meeting, the concession framework and the interim phase framework agreements are expected to be signed.

He added that the Nigerian officials would also meet with US-EXIM Bank and the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation to explore competitive financing arrangements.

 

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U.S. Pledges Commitment In Fight Against Boko Haram Terrorists

The United States has pledged her commitment to support Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists, the Department of State officials has said.

The officials stated the U.S. position yesterday during a background briefing ahead of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s first trip to Africa.

Tillerson is due to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders of Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya between today and March 13.

The officials described Nigeria as critical to the stability of West Africa and the future engagement of the U.S. in the subregion.

“We are following the recent kidnappings of 110 school girls, which really kind of follows up on several years ago of the Chibok girls.

“And those are horrendous, they’re unacceptable and terrible.”

It said another issue was enhancing the security, particularly in the North, saying  “it just can’t be constantly a kinetic strike operation or bring in U.S. military”.

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US Secretary Of State Rex Tillerson To Visit Nigeria Next Week

United States Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, will travel to Africa next week, the State Department said on Thursday, in his first visit to the continent since President Donald Trump entered office.

Tillerson will travel to “N’Djamena, Chad; Djibouti, Djibouti; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Nairobi, Kenya; and Abuja, Nigeria,” between March 6 and 13, department spokesperson Heather Nauert announced Thursday.

The visit follows a scandal which erupted when President Donald Trump allegedly branded African nations “shithole countries” in January.

Tillerson will meet with leaders in each country, along with African Union leadership based in Addis Ababa.

“He plans to discuss ways we can work with our partners to counter terrorism, advance peace and security, promote good governance, and spur mutually beneficial trade and investment,” Nauert added.

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Trump’s Shithole Remark: We Hold Nigeria In High Regard, Says US Ambassador

The Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the United States of America in Abuja, Ambassador David Young, has said that his country will continue to hold the people of Nigeria in very high regard, despite the remarks credited to President Donald Trump, in which he referred to African countries as “shithole countries.”

Young, who stated this Monday in Abuja, during a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, however, assured him that his country would continue to show respect to Nigeria and cherish the cordial and excellent relations between the two countries.

In a statement by the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tope Elias-Fatile, Ambassador Young pointed out that there were contradicting accounts by those present as to the veracity or otherwise of the substance of the remarks made by President Trump.

Onyeama, had earlier in the day summoned the US Ambassador to Nigeria to clarify issues regarding the remarks.

“The minister sought clarification on the veracity or otherwise of the substance of the remarks, stressing that if they were true, they were deeply hurtful, offensive and unacceptable, especially given the very warm and cordial relations that presently exist between the Nigerian Government and the Government of the United States of America,” the statement added.

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Vice President Osinbajo Leaves For US To Deliver Keynote Lecture At Harvard

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, on the invitation of Harvard University, Boston, United States, would be delivering the inaugural, keynote lecture at the university’s “Africa Rising” course at Harvard Business School on Tuesday, January 16, 2018.

In extending its invitation to the Vice President, the university noted that it deeply admired the immense progress that Nigeria has made under the Buhari presidency, including the work of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).

“It would be the highest honour for us were you to accept our invitation as we deeply admire the immense progress that Nigeria has made during your tenure not only as the country’s Vice President, but also as Chairman of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council. By all accounts, this Council has spearheaded crucial initiatives and we very much hope that you will speak to those, as well as to Nigeria’s rise in world economic rankings and the vast range of business initiatives that are ongoing in your country,” the university said.

The top US university further describes the lecture as a historic moment as it would be the first time that an Africa-focused course will be offered at Harvard Business School.

During the lecture, Prof. Osinbajo would highlight the progress made by the Buhari administration in improving the country’s economy and investment climate.

In the latest World Bank Doing Business index, Nigeria climbed up 24 places and was placed on the list of 10 most reformed economies globally.

Alongside the President, the VP has been a strong advocate in the future of a greater Africa, and has proffered solutions on how to make the continent work better for its people and the rest of the world.

In a keynote address at the Financial Times Africa Summit in London recently, the Vice President emphasised the continent’s depth of talent and innovation across Agriculture, ICT, Hospitality, Fashion, Energy, Manufacturing, Entertainment, and many other fields.

The Vice President, who will leave for Boston today, is expected back in Abuja later on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Prof. Osinbajo had, alongside President Muhammadu Buhari, laid wreaths in honour of fallen heroes of the Nigerian Army at the National Arcade, Abuja, to mark the 2018 Armed Forces Remembrance Day.

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