TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Nigeria: US empowers more Nigerians

Monday, 08 December 2008

Source: Daily Independent (Lagos)

The Government of the United States of America (USA) appears to be unrelenting in its effort to assist Nigerians get out of the shackle of poverty. This is evident in the number of assistance the U.S. Government, through its Mission in Nigeria, has offered various institutions and individuals in recent time.

For instance, the U.S. Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders, recently led a delegation of U.S. Government and the U.S. World Cocoa Foundation officials to Jalingo, Taraba State for a practical capacity building programme entitled, "Enhancing U.S.-Nigeria Agricultural Partnerships: AGOA and Beyond." The programme is part of a public-private partnership with Bank of Industry (BOI). The program covered a variety of topics ranging from agricultural financing resources to the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA, which eliminates import tariffs on 6,000 goods entering the United States from Africa, which Nigeria could take advantage of.

Ambassador Sanders said the U.S. Mission was in Taraba to lay out a road map for farmers and other agricultural producers that will help the farmers build the capacity they need to expand into the U.S. export market. "This agricultural partnership between the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, BOI, and the government and people of Taraba State is a natural fit, given that an estimated 80 per cent of the people of this state are involved in agriculture," she stated.

Similarly, the Ambassador recently signed grant agreements to support seven community development projects in Nigeria. The grants are funded by the U.S. Mission to Nigeria, through the United States Government's Ambassador's Special Self-Help Program, which partners with community groups throughout Nigeria to complete development projects. Each interested community forms a project committee, creates a budget, and submits a proposal for review. Organizations whose projects are selected for funding must also make significant contributions to the success of the project, generally in the form of land, labour, money, and materials.

Those who benefited from the grant this year include: Daniel Igali Foundation (Yenezuegene, Yenagoa, Bayelsa), the Garram Children's School (Anglo, Jos, Plateau), Grace Hospital Eziama (Okpala, Ngor Okpala, Imo), Health Awareness and Gender Advocacy Initiative (Oke-Ira/Aguda, Ikeja, Lagos), Npang-Niyes Community (Mangu, Plateau), Ovim Community Initiative (Ovim, Isuikwuato, LGA, Abia), and Women's Board (Ereji, Itamapako, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun). These organizations will use the grants for boreholes, classroom furniture, hospital equipment, and other projects throughout Nigeria.

The Ambassador's Special Self-Help Program is one of many ways in which the U.S. Government works in partnership with Nigerian organisations to invest in the people of Nigeria. Community groups and organizations may apply for funding by completing an application and sending it to the Special Self-Help/DHFR Coordinator, based at the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos.

In yet another development, the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to Nigeria, Lisa Piascik, was in Minna, Niger State, where she donated digital library equipment, known as eGranary, to the New Horizons College (NHC) in the state. She also commissioned the school's new science teaching equipment and materials, which were purchased through a grant from the U. S. Government.

Ms. Piascik said the digital library resource donated to the school complemented other forms of U.S. support to educational development in Nigeria. "Investing in People is an important pillar of the U.S. Mission's framework for partnership with Nigeria," she emphasised.

She said that the histories of the United States and Nigeria are full of examples of support from both governments and individuals for the pursuit of knowledge.

The NHC is one of four schools established by the Islamic Education Trust (IET) under the leadership of one of northern Nigeria's foremost educators, Sheikh Ahmed Lemu.

She noted that the first revealed word of the Qur'an is "read." She reminded both teachers and students of the College, which runs a dual curriculum in Islamic and Western education, of the importance that Islam attaches to the search for knowledge.

Ms. Piascik said the donation of the eGranary Digital Library to the school will contribute to the growth of knowledge.

The Deputy Chief of Mission said the American people are investing in the long-term intellectual well-being of the Nigerian community. "We hope that these contributions will help promote students' achievements and their preparation for global competitiveness, purposeful leadership and effectiveness," she stated.

Speaking on behalf of the Islamic Education Trust, Sheikh Ahmed Lemu, Chairman and co-founder of the IET schools said the organization remains eternally grateful to the U.S. Government for its support. He said the U.S. Government's support to the New Horizons College has helped the school improve students' performance and enhance its mission to foster academic excellence, promote broad-based knowledge, and nurture young men and women with high moral values and respect for diverse opinions.



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