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US Senate Impeachment Trial of Trump and Nigeria’s Legislative Conduct: An Assessment
February 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Omoshola Deji*

In Athens, 510 BC, Cleisthenes instituted democracy to foster greater: accountability of institutions and leaders to citizens and the law. Today, the tenet is being flouted with impunity, especially in developing nations, where most of the heads of parliament are puppets of the president. Nigeria tops the list. While her legislature is failing in oversight and overlooking misconducts, that of the United States (US) prosecuted President Donald Trump and almost removed him from office. This piece evaluates the two countries legislative conduct, based on the proceedings of Trump’s impeachment trial.

Process and History of US and Nigerian President Impeachment

Article II, section 4 of the US Constitution empowers Congress – comprising the House of Representatives and Senate – to remove the president from office for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. The House and Senate gets to remove the president in two separate trials. First, the House would deliberate and approve the articles of impeachment through a simple majority vote. The second trial occurs in the Senate, where conviction on any of the articles requires a two-third majority vote, which if gotten, results in the president’s removal from office. Trump’s impeachment succeeded in the House, but failed in the Senate, denoting he remains president.

Only three presidents has been impeached throughout US over 230 year old democracy. First, Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 for violating the Tenure of Office Act. Then, Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 for perjury, obstruction of justice and having an inappropriate relationship with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Lastly, Donald Trump was impeached December 2019. Each of the three – Johnson, Clinton and Trump – escaped removal from office through Senate’s acquittal.

Impeaching Nigeria’s president is a difficult, almost impossible task. The lengthy, extremely cumbersome process is contained in Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution. No Nigerian president has been impeached, despite their gross incompetence and serial abuse of power.

Allegations against Trump and the Buhari Comparison

Trump’s impeachment trial was a straight confrontation between the ruling Republican, and opposition Democratic Party. The president was tried on two articles of impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The abuse of power bothers on alleged solicitation of foreign interference in the 2020 US presidential election. Trump allegedly withheld $391million aid to Ukraine; upon which he secretly pressurized President Volodymyr Zelensky (of Ukraine) to start investigating former US vice-president Joe Biden for Corruption. Trump only released the aid to Ukraine after a whistle-blower complaint.

Biden was ex-president Barrack Obama’s deputy and currently one of the Democratic Party’s presidential aspirant. Trump wants Biden and son, Hunter investigated for alleged corrupt practices during the Obama presidency’s (2009-2017) aid supply to Ukraine. The US president allegedly pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Biden, despite being aware that the US Prosecutor General had cleared him and his son of corruption in May 2019.

To ensure Biden is investigated, Trump allegedly refused to allow Zelensky visit the White House at a time Ukraine urgently needs the meeting to send fears to its aggressors – particularly Russia – that it has US backing. The Democrats insist Trump undermined US interests by his action, and must be removed for conditioning congressionally mandated aid on ‘quid pro quo’ – meaning ‘favor for favor.’

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is an adherent of ‘quid pro quo.’ His declaration that the Northern region, which gave him 95% votes would be favored than the Southeast that gave him 5% is ‘quid pro quo’ – conditioning governance favoritism on votes; favor for favor. Presidents are expected to govern with equity and fairness, but Buhari promised sectionalism and delivered as pledged. The proscription of IPOB, while killer herdsmen are operating unchecked, apparently because they’re among the 95% is a dangerous ‘quid pro quo’ adherence that can lead Nigeria into another civil war.

Aside Trump’s hold on aid, the second article of impeachment – obstruction of Congress – bothers on the president’s deliberate blockage of formal legislative inquiries. Trump allegedly instructed all government officials to ignore House subpoenas for testimonies and documents. He ensured no piece of paper or email was turned over to the House. Certainly Trump would have done worse if he’s a Nigerian.

If Trump is a Nigerian president, he would have ordered the police to lay siege on US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi’s residence as President Buhari repeatedly did to former Senate President Bukola Saraki. Pelosi would have been distracted with false asset declaration charges till she’s acquitted by the Supreme Court. The Dino Melaye’s in her camp would have been hounded and arraigned on several trumped-up charges. If Trump is a Nigerian president, masked, heavily-armed State Security Service (SSS) operatives would have obstructed the legislators from entering the chambers to carry out impeachment.

The Democrats resolve to impeach Trump is perhaps comeuppance, but certainly an insult to Nigerians. The same legislators rebuking Trump supported Obama’s interference in Nigeria’s 2015 presidential election. The poll, as Obama desired, resulted in the first-in-history defeat of then incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan. It is at best surprising, and at worst annoying that the same Democrats who backed Obama’s action on Nigeria are scolding Trump for trying to aid his win through foreign interference. How miserable for them to live with their own nemesis!

Unlike the US, foreign interference in Nigerian elections attracts no legislative criticism, let alone impeachment. Nigerian legislators took no action when two state governors from Niger Republic crossed into Nigeria to join Buhari’s 2019 reelection campaign in Kano State.

The abuse of power charges against Trump can’t fly for impeachment in Nigeria. Successive presidents have committed greater offenses without reprimand. Ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo spent heavily on electricity provision without result and ordered the Odi massacre. The legislature never summoned him. President Buhari has more than once repressed free speech, disobeyed court orders and spent without legislative approval. Yet the Senate has never cautioned him. Indeed, what the US lawmakers see as ‘abuse of office’ is what their Nigerian counterpart rank as ‘executive grace.’

US often punishes, but Nigeria rewards wrongdoing. The former’s first citizen, arguably the strongest man in the world was made to face a tough trial for abuse of office. His record is tainted even though he’s acquitted. Nigeria works the other way round. In the 8th Senate, suspended Senator Ovie Omo-Agege invade plenary with thugs, who took away the mace right before the cameras. Rather than prosecute him to serve as a deterrent, the ruling party rewards him with the exalted position of deputy-senate president in the subsequent, current 9th Senate. Omo-Agege is currently leading the same chamber he desecrated. Such can’t occur in the US.

Trial Debate: Democrat vs. Republican

The US senate impeachment trial of Trump was a pure intellectual, thrilling and rigorous debate. The House Managers, comprising mainly the Democrats argued that Trump deserves to be sacked for obstructing Congress investigation; promoting foreign interference in US election; and withholding economic, diplomatic and military aid to a strategic US ally (Ukraine) in need.

Defending the allegation, Trump’s defense team, comprising the Republicans, contend that the Democrats are trying to upturn Trump’s mandate in order to prevent him from contesting the next election. They argued that Trump withheld aid to Ukraine because 1) he wants a burden sharing agreement with Europe; and 2) he was unsure of its efficient use, due to the high level of corruption in Ukraine.

Opposing the submission, the Democrats argued that Trump showed no interest in Ukraine’s corruption before Biden announced his presidential ambition. The Republicans disagreed, and accused the Democrat caucus of using impeachment to shield Biden from corruption investigation. They insist Biden has a case to answer over his actions on Ukraine when he was vice-president.

Contesting the obstruction of Congress article, Trump’s team argued that the president has the power to assert immunity on his top aides, and he did so against Congress to protect the sensitive operations of government from getting to the public. Citing former presidents that have used such privilege, the Republicans argued that the Democrat-sponsored articles of impeachment is wholly based on presumptions, assumptions and unsupported conclusions. The Democrats, however refused to back down; they insist they have a “mountain of evidence” to prove Trump is guilty.

To support their arguments, both the House Managers and Trump’s defense team went deep into the archives; they went as far as referencing what happened in 1796, during the administration of the first US President George Washington. Several Supreme Court judgments, dating back to 1893 were cited. Both parties showed resourcefulness as they used historical, legal and rational arguments to establish their case. Their knowledge of history, politics and law in astounding.

Sadly, majority of Nigerian legislators lack such proficiency. Their contribution to motions are often based on partisan, personal interests and their arguments are often shallow, uninformative and irrational. While watching the trial, I couldn’t help but crave for power to order Nigerian legislators into the US Senate to learn functional legislative practice.

Plenary Session: Nigeria-US Comparison

Both the US House and Senate displayed exceptional commitment to public involvement. Many nations won’t permit the live airing of a sensitive issue such as the impeachment trial of a president. But the US stands out. Every minute of the trial was aired live to the local and global population. Nigerian House and Senate are not doing badly in this regard. Most of their sessions are aired live, including the election of principal officers. However, as being done in the US, the Nigerian legislature needs to make public the details of her income, constituency projects and budgetary allocations.

US senators are more open than their Nigerian counterpart. They boldly reveal their planned vote and the reasons for their decision. Many disclosed that they would vote on the impeachment based on personal conviction and desired legacy. Nigerian senators understandably can’t be that outspoken out of the fear of being hounded. This doesn’t however rob off the fact majority of them vote ‘aye’ or ‘nay’ based on financial gain, ethnic and religious sentiments, party instruction, and ‘quid pro quo.’

Public interest is not always primary to politicians, including the US senators. Most of the Republican senators were more interested in acquitting Trump than ensuring a fair trial. They denied the public access to crucial information by voting against the admission of additional witnesses and documents. Voting in favor of the motion would have made the Senate evaluate the leaked indicting videos and testimonies of crucial anti-Trump witnesses such as John Bolton, the ex-national security adviser. Without a doubt, Nigerian progressive senators would have done same to save Buhari.

The US legislators conduct at plenary and commitment to national service need to be emulated by the Nigerian Senate. The US Senate leaders and the Chief Justice, John Roberts coordinated the sessions impartially. They, unlike their Nigerian counterpart, acted neutral, even though they too (as humans) have their own viewpoint and desires. They set rules that would make everyone listen and participate such as prohibiting the use of phones.

Rather than deploy speech interjection, shout-match and walk-out as commonly done in Nigerian chambers, the US legislators acted responsibly. No one spoke without being recognized and they yield back time promptly. More than once they sat for about twelve hours on the impeachment and everyone stayed on strong. If the impeachment trial took place in Nigeria, the senate president would have hurriedly adjourn sitting or ‘dabaru’ the process in favor of his party. Moreover, the senators, many of whom are old and lazy, would have yelled for adjournment or sleep off.

End Note

Trump’s acquittal by the US senate sets a bad precedence for succeeding presidents to solicit foreign interference in US election and obstruct the investigation of Congress. Conversely, conviction would have opened the door for future sharply partisan, malicious impeachments.

Both the United States and Nigeria need more executive-legislature synergy. The frosty relationship between Trump and Pelosi has worsened over the impeachment trial. They must be reconciled for the benefit of the American people. It’s difficult, but not impossible to have intergovernmental synergy and a vibrant legislature under the Buhari administration. Perhaps Senate President Ahmed Lawan and House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila need to attend classes on ‘how to function without being a puppet.’

US democracy is not perfect, but Nigeria has a lot to learn from it. The latter must adopt the former’s positive deeds and embrace attitudinal change. One may blame the large efficiency gap between US and Nigeria’s democracy on the year of adoption. US democracy is over 230 years old, while Nigeria’s current democratic experiment is only 20 years old. But then, if Nigeria’s systemic failure is anything to go by, it will take us over a thousand years to achieve the progress US made in 230 years. The reason is not far-fetch. US has what Nigeria lacks: Transparency, accountability and leadership commitment to growth and development.

*Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via moshdeji@yahoo.com

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Roadshow to Help Rwandan Businesses Tap Into AfCFTA
February 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

Afreximbank, PSF Will Showcase Opportunities from IATF2020 Participation

Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank

Kigali, 06 Feb. 2020 – The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has announced a roadshow in Kigali to show the Rwandan private sector how it can become a primary beneficiary of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which will provide significant opportunities to access the largely untapped markets and sectors in an integrated African market of over 1.3 billion people.

Organised in collaboration with Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation (PSF) on 11 February 2020, the roadshow will seek to raise the awareness of the Rwandan private sector about the substantial benefits of attending the second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2020) which will take place in Kigali from 1 to 7 September 2020.

According to Afreximbank, Rwandan businesses can take advantage of the AfCFTA by establishing new networks of business buyers and sellers from across the African continent, enabling the country to significantly expand its intra-African trade.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, said: “Rwanda’s economic transformation is undoubtedly one of Africa’s success stories. Rwandan businesses can further capitalise on this achievement by positioning themselves to take full advantage of the AfCFTA. Its removal of intra-African trade tariffs, progressive dismantling of non-tariff barriers and protectionism, will create a genuine single continental market. By attending IATF2020, they will gain an unrivalled opportunity to showcase their goods and services to buyers from across the African continent, whilst establishing new trade and investment links with a wide network of private and public sector players from more than 55 different countries.”

IATF2020 is expected to be Africa’s main trade event of 2020 and is aimed at providing a marketplace for buyers and sellers of products and services from Africa and beyond to meet and explore business opportunities. It will offer a platform for Business-to-Business and Business-to-Government exchanges, as well as business networking and development opportunities leading to the expected conclusion of trade and investment deals worth $40 billion.

The operational phase of the AfCFTA will commence on 1 July 2020.

* Afreximbank

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Support African solutions to challenges facing the continent, President Kenyatta tells American Institutions
February 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

WASHINGTON DC, 5th February 2020, (PSCU)—President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked American institutions to support indigenous African solutions fashioned to address governance challenges facing the continent.

The President said the US and the world at large have a lot to gain by making Africa work for its people.President Kenyatta spoke on Wednesday in Washington DC when he addressed leaders of the Atlantic Council at a forum dubbed “The Future of The US-Kenya Strategic Partnership”

The Atlantic Council is an American Atlanticist international affairs think-tank founded in 1961 as a non-partisan institution aimed at galvanizing the US leadership and engaging with the world for purposes of finding solutions to global challenges. 

The council uses its forums to influence US policies to make them responsive to the needs of a free, secure and prosperous world.
President Kenyatta cautioned American institutions against advancing democracy as a one-size-fits-all prescription saying the approach undermines the foundations upon which the concept is based. 

He said African countries should be given opportunities to engineer new approaches that support and extend democracy in line with their realities.

“It requires bringing more nuance to how we make judgements about politics, and the resulting interventions countries like the United States should undertake,” President Kenyatta said. 

The Head of State pointed out that Kenya is currently engineering its own homegrown solutions to political, social and governance challenges facing it through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). 

He said the BBI process “is a homegrown (Kenyan) solution for a divisive political culture that has often sparked electoral crises over the last thirty years”.

The Kenyan leader noted that BBI, which was framed as anchor for his “handshake” with Raila Odinga, his main challenger in the last presidential election, is aimed at addressing cyclic post-election violence by ensuring inclusivity in government.

He said inclusivity is needed in Kenyan politics for democracy to thrive adding that his coming together with Raila Odinga “disoriented the politics of extremism and division”. 

President Kenyatta invited the Atlantic Council and similar American institutions to take interest in the BBI saying the process will deliver bold reforms that will advance inclusion, economic uplift, countering corruption and strengthening institutions.

“As a think-tank, you should delve deeper into the BBI process. It is not as simple as it looks. We have found a number of countries seeking to learn from it in trying to re-engineer their politics and social contracts. 
“We have been open in sharing. In time, I believe that this may emerge as a unique model that can be adopted and domesticated elsewhere in Africa and worldwide,” President Kenyatta said.
On the US-Africa partnership, the President cautioned against the repeat of historical mistakes as he called on African and American institutions to focus on exploiting available business opportunities for the mutual economic benefit of all parties. 

“We must begin to look at Africa as the world’s biggest opportunity, if you can dare look at it with a fresh eye and a sense of history. And Kenya is a key country in converting that opportunity into mutual gain,” he said.
President Kenyatta pitched for strong US-Africa partnership saying the current African leadership is not motivated by the perpetuation narrow partisan interests but rather focused on empowering the continent’s citizens economically.

“I have noticed in the conversation in Western countries and their counterparts in Asia and the Middle East a return to competition over Africa. In some cases weaponising divisions, pursuing proxy actions, and behaving like Africa is for the taking. It is not,” President Kenyatta said.

Responding to questions from the audience, President Kenyatta said Kenya’s strategy for continued economic growth is focused on designing a social contract that addresses concerns of all Kenyans.

The President of the Atlantic Council Mr Frederick Kempe said Kenya is one of the most valuable US partners in the war against terrorism.

President Uhuru Kenyatta
President Uhuru Kenyatta

Mr Kempe said despite numerous terrorist attacks, Kenya has remained steadfast an economic, commercial and logistics hub of the East African region and a global leader in the development of mobile money and financial inclusion with over 80 percent of regional trade flowing through the Mombasa port.

Present at the forum were US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and also a former US Ambassador to Kenya Johnny Carson, and Amb Linda Thomas-Greenfield who is a former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. 

Others were former US Ambassador to Multiple African Countries Terence McCully and U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa Dr Peter Pham.

*PSCU

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Djibouti reaffirms its ambition to sit as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council
February 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

DJIBOUTI, Republic of Djibouti, February 5th, 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- While the 33rd African Union Summit is held in Addis Ababa, the Republic of Djibouti reaffirms its ambition, already announced at the end of 2016, to sit as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2021 -2022 period. Five of the ten non-permanent members of the Security Council will be elected at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly to be held in June 2020 in New York. Africa is required by statute to be entrusted with one of these five seats and, according to the tradition of regional rotation adopted by the African Union, it is East Africa’s turn to apply.

In this context, Djibouti is formally challenging the process carried out within the African Union which led to Kenya’s competing nomination. This process took place in violation of the rules and traditions of the organization. Djibouti points out that the texts provide that, in the event of multiple candidacies or lack of consensus, states are chosen according to two principles: that of last rotation and that of frequency. In both cases, Djibouti’s candidacy should have prevailed. Djibouti served on the Security Council for the last time in 1993-1994 and Kenya in 1997-1998. In addition, Djibouti has served only one term in its entire history (1993-1994) while Kenya has served two terms (1977-1978 and 1997-1998).

Djibouti reaffirms its unconditional support for African unity, but also firmly reiterates that the rules democratically adopted between the States of the African Union must apply to all. These rules and traditions essentially guarantee the stability and transparency of the African nomination processes within the United Nations.

Djibouti’s candidacy is fundamentally African and free. Because of its history, Djibouti recognizes both the virtues and the requirements of independence. Because of its history, Djibouti offers an opening towards a plurality of leading economic and strategic partners for the continent, from China to the United States, Europe, and the countries bordering the Red Sea. Due to its unique location at the crossroads of major commercial, political, and diplomatic currents, the Republic of Djibouti holds its neutrality as a cardinal value. It has learned how to reconcile interests that sometimes diverge. Finally, it represents a unique platform in terms of dialogue, mediation, and peaceful conflict resolution.

Djibouti has repeatedly demonstrated its determination and its ability to coordinate strategic efforts for the pacification of the Horn of Africa. The country is actively engaged in the fight against terrorism and in securing maritime trade in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. Djibouti has also been resolutely involved in the fight against piracy and the protection of refugees by hosting a number of support structures on its soil. In addition to participating in numerous peacekeeping missions under the UN flag, since the early 1990s the country has been engaged in the process of dialogue and peace in Somalia with the deployment of troops through AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia).

This ambition and this experience are not new; Djibouti already had them in 1993 during its last term in the United Nations Security Council. Now, 25 years later, they have only been strengthened. As a result, on February 6 in Addis Ababa, Djibouti will chair for a month the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, a permanent decision-making body of the African Union for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. Among the topics to be discussed on this occasion are the crises in Libya and South Sudan, the future of AMISOM, the planned elections in Somalia, and the security situation in the Red Sea.

Linguistically, Africa cannot be reduced to supposed areas of influence and aligned with “official” languages. Of course we are French-speaking, but also Arabic-speaking and English-speaking by nature of our economy being open to the world. As the African Continental Free Trade Area is being implemented, African leaders must integrate a new pan-African paradigm, far from the postcolonial heritage, for the benefit and respect of the different cultures that make up the continent.

This candidacy also embodies the need to take into account the contributions of “Small States” to decisions that determine the future of the planet, in particular with regard to the issue of climate change. The area and size of the economy cannot be the only factors in being elected to the Security Council.

The Republic of Djibouti regards its candidacy as legitimate and that of a united Africa. Consequently, it intends to defend and promote it until the vote before the United Nations General Assembly in June 2020.

*Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the Républic of Djibouti.

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Gambians CSOs Calls for National Dialogue Amidst Tension
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President Barrow
President Barrow

Prominent Gambian Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have written an open letter to President Barrow urging the embattled head of state to show leadership and support the calls being echoed around the country for a National Dialogue to take place as a matter of urgency.

In the letter the group stated that: ‘A listening and caring government will always gain the respect and garner the support of the citizens it leads’.

It bolstered its augment by reminding the president that his administration’s refusal to listen to public opinion, especially if well intentioned, was unacceptable. Intimating that this was the reason as to why the recurrence of police brutality, crackdown and arrest of protesters happened last week. 

“The mishandling of this and other events lately, starting with the vacillation over the issuance of routine meeting permits by the police, bore all the hallmarks of an inept, paranoid and incompetent administration.”

The letter went further to state that the current administration is unable to unlearn the practices of old, and reluctant to take on-board sound suggestions to enable it to better deal with issues of public protests, and even to be accepting of dissenting views.

‘The Faraba Banta Commission of Inquiry report submitted to you, provided concrete recommendations in order to avoid future recurrence of such events.  It is again clear that the most important aspects of the conclusions and further recommendations of this commission, to urgently embark on security sector reforms, were ignored.’

It further stated that lessons should have been learned from the fallout and consequences of two decades of intolerance, intimidation, and outright abuse meted out to Gambians by the former Jammeh regime; which has now been placed under the spotlight by the ongoing TRRC. 

The group also cautioned the president and his administration that the decision they took to ‘go to war’ with people that hold a different political view is a dangerous tipping point for the stability of the country.

The authors of the letter went further to remind the president that such intolerance has severe consequences for his presidency and ultimately the country.  They cited similar overreaction by Barrow’s predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, who reacted with brutal force over similar demonstrations.

“The 26 January 2020 incident was angrily reminiscent of the events of 14-16 April 2016, when Solo Sandeng and his colleagues were arrested, beaten and tortured; Solo Sandeng later succumbed to his injuries and died.  This was followed by further protests by the UDP 31, members of your former party, and senior partner to the coalition that brought you to power. 

They too were arrested, detained and charged,” the letter stated.  It went further to also advise the president to make a pronouncement on the outcome of the legal challenge mounted and won by the UDP 31, where by the ECOWAS court recently issued an order for investigations to happen, and to bring the perpetrators of Sandeng’s death, and the torture of others, to book.

  They also urged president Barrow to instruct his Attorney General and Minister of Justice, ‘to give the pronouncement [of the ECOWAS court] the same earnestness, enthusiasm and urgency he gave the Rohingya matter.’

The letter ended with a warning that the only way out of the political quagmire the country faces is through an inclusive national conversation among all stakeholders, especially the politicians. 

They stated that this would be ‘an avenue to reduce the unhealthy contestation and rhetoric, which has grown toxic, and lay the groundwork for a peaceful transition to a new constitutional order.’

The organizations that signed the open letter are: Right to Know Gambia (R2K); The Democratic; Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA); The Gambia Press Union (GPU); Gambia Participates, and Team Gom Sa Borpa.  The letter was copied to the diplomatic and consular corps in country, as well as the ECOWAS and the African Union.

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THE MARLEY FAMILY, UME AND ISLAND RECORDS ANNOUNCE YEARLONG 75TH BIRTHDAY COMMEMORATIVE PLANS FOR LEGENDARY ICON BOB MARLEY
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments
LEGENDARY ICON BOB MARLEY

MARLEY75 To Feature Special Releases, Live Performances, Plus Rare And Unreleased Material from the Marley Family Vaults and Private Collection 

40 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF ‘REDEMPTION SONG,’ CELEBRATED WITH NEW MUSIC VIDEO PREMIERED ON YOUTUBE

(February 5, 2020 – Los Angeles, CA) The Marley family, UMe and Island Records have begun to roll out their yearlong MARLEY75 commemorative plans in celebration of the legendary cultural icon, Bob Marley’s 75th birthday and 40th anniversary of the timeless classic “Redemption Song.” 

In honor of Black History Month, now underway, and to mark the beginning of all MARLEY75 celebrations in 2020, the official music video for Redemption Song” premieres today on Bob Marley’s YouTube channel. Created by French artists Octave Marsal & Theo De Gueltzl, the breathtaking animation, featuring 2,747 original drawings, uses powerful symbols to amplify the magnitude of the song’s timeless lyrics and importance in today’s world. The video highlights Bob’s contribution to the empowerment of black civilization, as well as his manifestation of hope and recovery for all mankind. 

Inspired by Bob’s homeland of Jamaica, as well as insights received from his family, the artistic approach was to illustrate the imaginary world of Bob Marley in a way that highly stimulates self-reflection. “From the history of Slavery and Jamaica, Rastafarian culture, legacy of prophets (Haile Selassie the 1st, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X), as well as Bob’s personal life, we take the audience on a journey through allegories and representations.” Marsal and De Gueltzl reveal. The opening sequence invites the viewer into Bob’s guitar, a visual metaphor to Bob’s mind, and our own, in a quest for Redemption. Also, drawing from Rastafarian philosophy, another vital element of the video’s narrative is about valuing nature, our Earth and the Mother Land.

Watch the powerful visual for ‘Redemption Song’ HERE

The MARLEY75 celebrations will encompass all things music, fashion, art, photography, technology, sport and film, providing fans unprecedented access to archives from the legendary artist’s estate in new, thoughtful and innovative ways. Together with YouTube, new and exciting content is set to be released over the course of the year.

The inaugural MARLEY75 music festivities kick off this Spring, the first of many celebrations to come. Ziggy Marley and Stephen Marley’s Bob Marley Celebration will headline 
The BeachLife   Festival. This special, collaborative appearance will feature Ziggy Marley and Stephen Marley performing an extensive catalog of Bob Marley tunes in celebration of their father’s 75th birthday at the three-day immersive music, art, and culinary oceanside event.

In this digital era, Bob Marley remains one of the most followed posthumous artists on social media, and MARLEY75 will serve to bring his music and message to the digital foreground, reaching new audiences and perspectives with innovative content and groundbreaking technology. Special live events, exclusive digital content, recordings, exhibitions, plus rare and unearthed treasures will also be revealed throughout the year.

Bob Marley’s music continues to inspire generation upon generation, as his legacy lives on through his message of love, justice and unity, a sentiment needed more than ever in 2020. In conjunction with Tuff Gong and UMe, a division of the Universal Music Group, the Marley family will continue to ensure the highest quality, integrity and care is taken to honor Bob’s legacy and to celebrate one of the 20th century’s most important and influential figures.

One-quarter of all the Reggae listened to in the United States, is Bob Marley. Bob Marley’s Legend is the nineteenth-biggest selling album of all time and the fifth-biggest selling Greatest Hits package in United States history.

Throughout history, no artist has dominated the world of music quite like Bob Marley. A musical, political and spiritual icon of mythical proportions, both poet and prophet, Marley was the first Jamaican artist to give voice to the struggles of his people and the Rastafarian culture, and the first to gain worldwide fame. October 2020 will see the 40th anniversary of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” Released in October 1980 and taken from his ninth album Uprising (Island Records), the song was inspired by a speech from Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey’s “The Work That Has Been Done” and is considered by many as one of the greatest songs ever written in popular culture. In a time when political unrest and oppression feels more prevalent than ever, “Redemption Song” maintains a poignancy and power and acts as a long-standing testament to Bob Marley’s brilliance and voice for the people. Bob Marley’s music catalog has amassed billions of streams and sold millions of albums worldwide, while his hits compilation, Legend, remains the world’s best-selling reggae album and longest-charting album in the history of Billboard’s Catalog Albums chart.

Tune in and subscribe to the Official Bob Marley YouTube channel here for more upcoming content celebrating Bob’s legacy and contribution to the world.

Additional information on MARLEY75 events will be revealed soon.

ABOUT BOB MARLEY

Bob Marley, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, is notable not only as the man who put reggae on the global map, but, as a statesman in his native Jamaica, he famously brought together the country’s warring factions. Today, Bob Marley remains one of the 20th century’s most important and influential entertainment icons. Marley’s lifestyle and music continue to inspire new generations as his legacy lives on through his music. In the digital era, he has the second-highest social media following of any posthumous celebrity, with the official Bob Marley Facebook page drawing more than 70 million fans, ranking it among the Top 20 of all Facebook pages and Top 10 among celebrity pages. Marley’s music catalog has sold millions of albums worldwide. His iconic collection LEGEND holds the distinction of being the longest-charting album in the history of Billboard magazine’s Catalog Albums chart and remains the world’s best-selling reggae album. Marley’s accolades include inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1994) and ASCAP Songwriters Hall of Fame (2010), a GRAMMY® Lifetime Achievement Award (2001), multiple entries in the GRAMMY® Hall Of Fame, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2001).  For more information visit: bobmarley.com and facebook.com/bobmarley.


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Now your own blood can save you: autotransfusion device Hemafuse will revolutionize blood access across Africa, now available in Ghana and Kenya
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments
Hemafuse was created for patients suffering from internal bleeding resulting from trauma, ruptured ectopic pregnancies, or for use in planned surgeries
BALTIMORE, United States of America, February 5, 2020/ — Hemafuse, a surgical autotransfusion device, will revolutionize blood access across Africa. Hemafuse is designed to salvage and recycle whole blood from cases of internal bleeding. The device can be used in both emergencies and scheduled procedures to recover blood from where it pools inside of a patient, into a blood bag, where it is immediately available to be re-transfused back to that same patient.

Hemafuse was created for patients suffering from internal bleeding resulting from trauma, ruptured ectopic pregnancies, or for use in planned surgeries. Hemafuse can be used in cases where there is no donor blood available, and even as the preferred option over donor blood. When compared to autotransfusion, the use of donor blood comes with a higher risk of disease transfer, increased length of stay, readmissions, and other complications.

Hemafuse is now used in 10 different hospitals across Kenya. Last month, Hemafuse received an endorsement from The First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta at the launch of the Nairobi Beyond Zero Medical Safari held at Uhuru Park Nairobi on January, 25 2020. The First Lady’s Beyond Zero Kenya initiative donated Hemafuse to Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital to aid in the reduction of maternal deaths.

During the event, Dr. Elizabeth Wala, Programme Director for Health Systems Strengthening at Amref Health Africa in Kenya, spoke about the importance of using a high-quality device to save lives. She announced that the Kenya Pharmacy and Poison Board have approved Hemafuse. “Blood is a matter of life and death, the impact of this device is saving lives that could have been lost due to lack of blood. Achieving [Universal Health Coverage] requires innovations for essential medicines and health technologies that save lives. Hemafuse should be part of the essential medical devices in each hospital,” she added.

Use of the device is now being rolled out in Ghana, where it has already been used to save lives in cases of ruptured ectopic pregnancy. Dr. Gerald Osei-Owusu, a Medical Officer at Tema General, has used Hemafuse in several different surgeries. After experiencing Hemafuse first hand, he says the device cuts down on cost, the time it takes to save the patient, and reduces their recovery time. “It’s a good device, I think it’s something we should use nationally and continentally… It makes life easier, work easier, and costs less. I think it’s a good device.”

Using Hemafuse to recycle a patient’s own blood saves the donor blood that is available for other patients who are not candidates for autotransfusion. Dr. Rafia Abanga, another Medical Officer at Tema General has experienced Hemafuse first hand, “The Hemafuse is a great device, I’ve used it only twice, it was much needed and helped save a young lady’s life. I am grateful to the person who invented this,” she added.

Autotransfusion reduces the risk of infection and disease transmission because using a patient’s own blood is safer than someone else’s. Dorothy Kesewah Denkyi, a theatre nurse at Tema General, explains her experience using Hemafuse and implementing autotransfusion. “Autotransfusion is the best…It’s better than giving someone [else’s] blood to the patient. So we are encouraging autotransfusion if that is what will help out. Now that Hemafuse is here [in Ghana], we are advocating to get more in the system. Every theatre should have one, if not one, two.”

Hemafuse is now available at hospitals in Kenya and Ghana, and will be coming to hospitals across Africa. In Kenya, Hemafuse is sold through Surgipharm and in partnership with Amref. All other locations should reach out to Sisu’s global partner, VIA Global Health: www.viaglobalhealth.com/product/hemafuse.

About Sisu Global:
Sisu Global (https://SisuGlobal.health) is a corporation headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. We envision a world where medical technology enables access to healthcare in every community. Right now, 80% of the world’s medical devices are designed for 10% of the world’s population. Sisu aims to change this statistic by designing and scaling medical devices made specifically for the global market. Sisu is the manufacturer of goods including the Hemafuse™ System. For more information, please visit our website, https://SisuGlobal.health

About Hemafuse™:
The Hemafuse™ is a handheld, mechanical medical device for intraoperative autotransfusion of blood collected from an internal hemorrhage, meant to replace or augment donor blood in emergency situations.  The Hemafuse™ is a device that can support the donor blood ecosystem by providing an option for clinicians to salvage and recycle a patient’s own blood in cases of internal bleeding. This immediate access to blood can shorten the wait time to perform surgery, increase hospital efficiency and provide access to blood where there may be no other option. This device was developed with invaluable feedback from Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
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$38M Cashew Value Chain Project for The Gambia, Senegal, and Guinea-Bissau Unveiled
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food For Progress (FFPr) Regional Cashew Value Chain Project is implementing a $38 million, six-year project in The Gambia, Senegal, and Guinea-Bissau which will enhance the regional cashew value chain to improve the trade of processed cashews in local and international markets. 

On January 29, 2020 U.S. Ambassador to The Gambia R. Carl Paschall and The Gambia’s Minister of Trade, Regional Integration, Industry and Employment, Lamin Jobe, spoke at a launch ceremony in Dakar, Senegal for the USDA’s Food for Progress regional cashew value chain project, also called the Linking Infrastructure, Finance, and Farms to Cashews (LIFFT-Cashew).

At the launch event, numerous government officials, as well as private sector leaders from The Gambia, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, discussed the regional integration of the cashew value chain.

The United States was represented by both the U.S. Ambassador to The Gambia, Richard Carlton Paschall III, and the U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, Tulinabo Salama Mushingi. Both U.S. Ambassadors emphasized the need for collaboration between the three countries.

Ambassador Paschall highlighted the importance of creating opportunities for producers and processors to boost economic development and working together to meet the needs of local and international markets.

In his remarks, Ambassador Paschall said: “I believe that government policy that encourages market-led development and regional integration of the cashew sector, through the private sector, is critical to integrate the cashew value chain and achieve the project’s goal.  This will help stimulate economic development and incite the creation of jobs here in the region by meeting market demand requirements.” 

Ambassador Mushingi echoed this message by reciting the well-known proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 

In turn, the government representatives of the beneficiary countries stressed the importance of adding value to their region’s cashew sector, as only approximately 5-6 percent of their produced cashew nut is processed locally. 

Facilitating the processing of cashew nuts within the region will create new jobs and increase incomes, attract more investment to the cashew sector, and create sustainable socio-economic development.

After the opening ceremony, workshop participants discussed key issues for the cashew sector, including access to finance, market linkages between cooperatives and processors, organic certification, and government strategies to facilitate regional integration. 

During the group breakout session, government officials discussed regional integration and the three governments’ roles in supporting cashew value chain actors. 

The private sector group, which consisted of farmer cooperatives, processors, investors and financial institutions, discussed the challenges and opportunities they face, the importance of linkages between the value chain actors, and the support they need from their governments in supporting collective sales, processing and exports.

These private sector participants and government officials will continue their collaboration as project LIFFT-Cashew progresses to pave the way for increased regional integration of the cashew value chain and increased trade in processed cashews.

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Gambia’s Award Wining Referee Tops CAF List For CHAN Preparatory Course
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

The three times Conferderation of Africa Football (CAF) Referee of the year Gambian born Bakary Papa Gassama is among the list of CAF prefered short list of Referees for the forth coming CHAN tournament in Cameroon 2020. Gassama top the merit list of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) for the 6th edition of the Championships.

Among the list of Referees and Assistant Referees is Abdul Azziz Bolel Jawo (Asst Ref) who is also on the CAF merit list nominated as Assistant Referee for the Championship. Both Gassama and Bolel are currently in Cairo, Egypt at the invitation of the Continental body for a preparatory Course organized by CAF ahead of the Total African Nations Championship (CHAN), Cameroon 2020.

Gambia’s highest standing performer and Africa’s finest Referee Bakary Papa Gassama will be part of the panel on Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) while Abdul Azziz Bolel Jawo joins his colleagues as Assistant Referee. The course will be on theoretical and practical basis. The first session of the Course on Tuesday 4th February 2020 was a fitness test in which both Gassama and Bolel made the cut to the next stage.

The final tournament of the sixth edition of the CHAN competition designed exclusively for players featuring in their domestic leagues will be held from 4th -25th April 2020 in the cities of Yaounde, Garoua, Douala and Limbe. Meanwhile, the draw for the final tournament has been fixed for Monday, 17th February 2020, at Palais Polyvalent Des Sports de Yaoundé in the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde, at 19:00hrs local time.

Bakary Papa Gassama was born 10 February 1979 in Memeh village in the North Bank Region. He started refreeing in 2003 and became a FIFA badge holder in 2007. Gassama began to officiate matches at the Gambia League Championships until in 2012 when he was appointed to the Olympic Tournament in which he was the fourth official for the gold medal match between Mexico and Brazil. He also served as a referee at the 2012 and 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournaments as well as the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

In March 2013, FIFA named Gassama as one of the fifty potential referees for the 2014 World Cup. On 15 January 2014, FIFA announced that he would be one of the 25 referees for the tournament. He was assisted by Evarist Menkouandé and Felicien Kabanda. Gassama officiated the 3rd stage Match in Group B between the Netherlands and Chile. At the continental front, he also officiated the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations Final between Ghana and Cote D Ivoire.

On 27 April 2017, Gassama was selected as CAF’s sole Referee for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup Final in Russia. He was assisted by Claude Birumushahu of Burundi and Marwa Range from Kenya while his Video Assistant was Malang Diedhiou of Senegal.  He officiated the Group A Match between Mexico and New Zealand.

Gassama continued with his panel of Referees when FIFA nominted him further to officaited some matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Gassama won the CAF Referee of the Year three times on the trot. 2014, 2015, 2016

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Equatorial Guinea agrees on $2M Solidarity Contribution to support China’s Fight Against Coronavirus
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments
Equatorial Guinea and China Presidents
According to the latest updates, the coronavirus has killed almost 500 people worldwide, mostly Chinese citizens and infected over 24,000 people

MALABO, Equatorial Guinea, February 5, 2020/ — Equatorial Guinea’s Council of Ministers has agreed to support China’s fight against the coronavirus with a $2 million solidarity contribution this week. Chaired by H.E. President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the Council of Ministers expressed its deepest support and solidarity to the Chinese Government in their fight against the global outbreak.

According to the latest updates, the coronavirus has killed almost 500 people worldwide, mostly Chinese citizens and infected over 24,000 people. The decision of Equatorial Guinea’s Council of Minister to financially support China’s fight against the virus reflects the deep and long-standing relationship between both countries, whose cooperation has only grown stronger in recent years.

“China has always been a very strong and loyal supporter of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and this contribution is a demonstration that Equatorial Guinea stands in solidarity with China and its people as it fights a global outbreak that has already cost too many lives,” declared H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons. “Our ongoing Year of Investment Initiative will be a testimony to the depth of our cooperation and relationship with China. It is a pleasure for Equatorial Guinea to support its partner in times of need.”

China and Equatorial Guinea have been enjoying successful economic and technical cooperation for decades. China has supported the development of Equatorial Guinea through the construction of critical telecommunications and road infrastructure, along with supporting social infrastructure in the country. Equatorial Guinea has been a long-standing supporter of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Last year, both countries agreed to further strengthen bilateral cooperation during a meeting between President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s special representative Yang Jiechi.
*Africa Energy Chamber
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Governor Nyesom Wike: “Real Madrid Academy Port Harcourt is a legacy for Rivers State”
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

Governor Wike announced to this latest Congress in Budapest that the Academy has now been completed and commissioned in September 2019

Governor of Rivers State, Nigeria, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike speaking on the opening day of the 83rd AIPS Congress on February 4, 2020. (Photo by Carlo Pozzoni/AIPS Media)
Governor of Rivers State, Nigeria, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike speaking on the opening day of the 83rd AIPS Congress on February 4, 2020. (Photo by Carlo Pozzoni/AIPS Media)

BUDAPEST, Hungary, February 5, 2020/ — During the opening day of the 83rd AIPS Congress at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest in Hungary, the Governor of Rivers State, Nigeria, His Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike took the stage to share his vision for a project he holds dear – the Real Madrid Academy based in his capital, Port Harcourt.

Wike, who is described by many in Nigeria as the “Sports Loving Governor” began his presentation by reflecting on the genesis of his relationship with AIPS. “My relationship with AIPS started in 2017 when the president of AIPS Africa Mitchell Obi led a delegation to pay a coutesy call to me in Port Harcourt where I was pronounced and subsequently honoured in 2018 with the Power of Sports award in recognition of our humble contribution to the development of sports in Rivers State. Since then we have continued to relate with the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), as well as the AIPS, to advance our mutual interest. AIPS is an organisation I hold in high regard, for its commitment, for the promotion and development of sports across the world.”

At the 81st AIPS Congress in Brussels two years ago in May, where Governor Wike was decorated with the AIPS Africa Power of Sports award, he gave a hint about his plan to build a Real Madrid Football Academy. Later, in the same month, AIPS President Gianni Merlo was invited to Nigeria to witness the laying of the project’s foundation on May 28, 2018 by the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Ahmad Ahmad.

Governor Wike announced to this latest Congress in Budapest that the Academy has now been completed and commissioned in September 2019 and has already admitted its first set of students from a local youth team that won a national football championship. The facility can accommodate 500 boarding students, he added.

“It is true that the future of any country or society is revealed in the character and quality of its youths, but what the youths eventually become in life is also founded on the quality of education and skills they acquire to the age of responsitbility.

“Sports and education are both important and can co-exist as a medium to drive the development, character and prosperity of our youths; this was the motivation for the establishment of the Real Madrid Academy, Port Harcourt.

“Football, among other sports, presents itself as one of the best possible ways to raising generations of young people with character and determination to achieve outstanding results and prosperity,” Governor Wike stated.

He added: “The Real Madrid Academy is expected to foster youth development by nurturing and producing talented football players for the state as well as inculcating critical skills and life values that will benefit our youths beyond the football sphere. The academy is a legacy for Rivers State.”

While the Academy is focused on nurturing Rivers State-born talents majorly, Governor Wike made it clear that 30 percent of the academy’s admission slots will be reserved for the rest of Nigeria and Africa. In this way, the academy is also making an impact on the continent. WIke also assured that the academy will continue even after his tenure as governor has come to an end.

*Courtesy of International Sports Press Association (AIPS)

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Secretary Michael R. Pompeo Statements to the Press With Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama deliver statements to the press after talks that included discussion of a visa row (AFP Photo/Eric BARADAT)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama deliver statements to the press after talks that included discussion of a visa row (AFP Photo/Eric BARADAT)

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, good morning, everyone.  It’s my pleasure to welcome you, Mr. Minister, and your entire Nigerian delegation to Washington, DC.  The foreign minister and I just completed a very productive conversation on how to continue to strengthen the economic and security ties between our two nations.  This is a real priority for us in the Trump administration in Africa, because Nigeria is Africa’s most populous democracy and its largest economy.

On that note, let me begin and talk about our economic cooperation.  Nigeria is already America’s second-largest trading partner in Africa.  U.S. companies from Google to Chevron to KPMG invested over a billion dollars in Nigeria in 2018 alone, creating over 18,000 jobs and indirectly supporting 3 million others.

It’s what American companies do.  It’s what we do all over the world every day, and they do it in a spirit of transparency and partnerships with the host nations.

The foreign minister and I discussed how we can tighten our trade ties even further, including in infrastructure investment.  Embracing free market policies that attract capital – private capital, ensuring consistent enforcement of the law, and doubling down on anti-corruption efforts are the surest way to grow prosperity in Nigeria and all across the region.

And we’re pleased, too, that President Buhari has prioritized that fight against corruption.

In support of that fight, I am announcing today that the United States and Nigeria have signed an agreement to return to the Nigerian people more than $308 million in assets stolen by a former dictator.

Now I’ll turn to our security cooperation, which has also been expanding.

Case in point: Nigeria’s recent $500 million purchase of 12 U.S.-made A-29 aircraft.  This supports President Buhari’s recently stated goal of creating “a security force with the best training and modern weaponry.”

He also pledged that those forces “will be held to the highest standards of… respect for human rights.”

The United States will hold Nigeria to that pledge, and we’ll help you achieve it.  The United States has already invested in the training of Nigeria’s military on human rights and the Law of Armed Conflict.

Nigeria was one of the first African nations to joint the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.  America is now supporting the Nigerian fight against ISIS’s largest global affiliate, ISIS-West Africa – a dangerous threat to both of our countries.

In part due to this terrorism threat, on Friday, President Trump announced the suspension of immigrant visas for Nigerians because Nigeria has room to grow in sharing important national security information.  I am optimistic that’s going to happen.  In the proclamation, President Trump highlighted Nigeria’s importance as a strategic partner in the global fight against terrorism and recognized the government’s commitment to improving information sharing with us.

The foreign minister and I also discussed today the massive humanitarian crisis that the conflict with Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa and other religious and ethnic violence.

We know that these issues are hard.  We know that they’re complicated.  But I strongly encouraged the Nigerian Government to do more to protect its civilians, including religious communities and the humanitarian organizations seeking to assist them.

To aid in this effort, I’m pleased to announce today an additional $40 million in humanitarian assistance to Nigeria, adding to the nearly $350 million that we provided last year.

In closing, I want to thank you for being here with me today, for joining us with a big delegation to work to address all of these important opportunities that our two nations have between us.

Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER ONYEAMA:  Thank you very much, Secretary.

Well, first of all, I’d like to say it’s been a great pleasure to be back in Washington to attend the Binational Commission between the United States and Nigeria.  This commission for us is a very important and valued framework for the cooperation between our two countries.  And as the Secretary has said, we came with a large delegation.  And of course, this showed the importance that we attach to our bilateral relations between our two countries.

And the themes of our Binational Commission really keys in to the vision of our president, President Muhammadu Buhari.  And so for us, it’s extremely important to develop the roadmap of that vision within the framework of our bilateral cooperation.

We – the three thematic areas that we dealt with, which were also mentioned by the Secretary – of course, security.  Security for us has become a major issue, an existential threat.  But of course, we know that terrorism is a global threat, and we appreciate and value very much the cooperation that we’ve received from the United States Government.  As the Secretary mentioned, there are some fighter planes, A-29 Super Tucanos, that we hope to be able to procure to help us on this fight.  But there are other areas – sharing of intelligence with our partners – that the United States has been supporting us in.  We appreciate very much that support.

Of course, we are faced with other security issues within Nigeria, and we know that some of them causes of disquiet amongst our partners, and we are addressing a number of those.  And in addressing those internal challenges, and especially in the security area, we absolutely make it clear and strive to uphold human rights.  We have the greatest interest in protecting the – and respecting the human rights of our population, and we do that.

Of course, the other area that we’ve discussed has been democracy and governance.  And as the Secretary has mentioned – and we thank again the United States for it – the sums of money that was restituted to Nigeria with the Bailiwick, it’s called, of Jersey and the United States, $321 million, we appreciate the effort in – and steps that have been taken in accessing these stolen funds.  And it’s an area that we prioritize in our country because huge resources have been siphoned out of our country.

And of course, in some of these cases it takes a bit longer than we would like to have these funds returned to our country, but we’re working very closely with the United States and we appreciate the support being provided in recovering and repatriating these illicit financial flow funds, and also, of course, as I said, the government of Jersey.

And corruption has been a real scourge for our country, and our president, President Muhammadu Buhari, has made the fight against corruption one of the real key areas and priorities of the government.  And it has not been easy, but it is one that we are determined to win.  And it impacts all aspects of our countries, and also recovering stolen funds is another area that we absolutely prioritize.

Then a third area, of course, that we discussed and that is part of the partnership that we have with the United States is on economic development.  We went through a recession in our country, and we have had what we would call a mono-economy, where we’ve essentially depended on one commodity, petroleum oil.  And as our president would say, once the price of oil came crashing, our economy went crashing with it.  So diversification of our economy has been something that our president has prioritized, and in particular agriculture.  And we’re trying to promote foreign direct investment and want much greater investments in our countries.

During the Binational Commission we looked at some of the statistics of the trade between the United States and Nigeria, and for two big countries it’s – it really is just too low.  And we honestly believe that there’s just so much more we can and we should be doing together.  Of course, there have been maybe some disincentives.  In the past, we have power challenges in our country, infrastructure, and of course, as I mentioned, governance has also been an issue.  But working with the United States, we believe that there’s a lot that the U.S. can do in also promoting and encouraging U.S. businesses to come and invest in Nigeria.  President Buhari has put in place measures to make Nigeria a more attractive place to invest in.  We have an Enabling Business Environment Council that’s been set up under the vice president, and we have sort of striven to move Nigeria up the World Bank rating on ease of doing business.  And we are moving in the right direction, and we feel that we are ready for business and certainly hope that, again, with our partners in the U.S. that we will be able to attract more investment.

We also want to export a lot more, developing our manufacturing and industrial base.  And I know, of course, the U.S. market is a very attractive market for us.  And you also have the African Growth Opportunities Act.  Again, we are very thankful for that mechanism and the facility that allows African countries to have some preferential access to the U.S. market.

And of course, there’s some challenges we face, and one of them is the phytosanitary challenges with regard – for our agricultural products.  And we hope to really work with the U.S. to work through that so that we don’t face these market access issues.

And of course, on the way here or just before coming, we were somewhat blindsided with the announcement of the visa restrictions by the U.S.  And of course, a lot of people back home in Nigeria understood it and put different interpretations and different spins on it.  But it’s essentially very straightforward.  It was very gratifying to come here, speaking to U.S. officials and to understand more clearly the reasoning behind this.

And essentially, there are security measure that were taken with regards to passports – electronic passports, lost and stolen passports, data being shared, criminal histories being made available and shared, known terrorists and suspected terrorist information also being made available.  And we’ve identified all those requirements and we had actually started working on all of them.  And we know – and the U.S. officials have also confirmed – that we have been able to tick most of those boxes.

With regards to lost and stolen passports, we’re putting in place the architecture that will now make that – the information and the data on that immediately available to the U.S. and all the member states, member countries of Interpol.  And we hope to have that up and running very soon and no longer going through third parties.  And hopefully once that has been achieved, we look forward to being taken off this visa restriction list.

But really have to say, Mr. Secretary, that we do appreciate very much and value very much the cooperation between our two countries in very important areas for us.  And the Binational Commission, we’ve identified a very clear basis to move that on and progress, and we really look forward to seeing a lot of gains, win-wins, for our two countries.

And last but not the least, to thank you again, Mr. Secretary.  We know you’ve just come back from a very long trip.  But nevertheless, you’ve taken the time to be here with us and afford us the opportunity to listen very attentively – and very sympathetically, I might say – to the points that we had to make.  And we had a excellent meeting before coming out here, and we’re very, very optimistic that we’ll build on this friendship between our two countries.  So thank you very much once again.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER ONYEAMA:  Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thanks, everybody.

*Source State Department

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