Friday, April 24, 2009


For publication on April 25, 2009 in local newspapers
Abuja, Nigeria
April 24, 2009

By Ambassador Robin Renée Sanders
U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria

Today, we commemorate World Malaria Day with you, to celebrate your achievements, and rededicate the historic partnership between Nigeria and the United States to defeat this preventable and treatable killer.

For about half the world’s population, malaria remains one of the greatest threats to public health. It is a disease that causes poverty, disrupts the livelihood of families, and far too often, steals the future of Africa's children. In tropical Africa, the disease kills nearly 3,000 people each day with young children and pregnant women at greatest risk. Nigeria, with Africa’s largest population, has the world’s greatest burden of malaria illness and an estimated 300,000 children die here each year from this disease.

World Malaria Day is observed April 25 to call attention to the disease and to mobilize action to combat it. On World Malaria Day, Americans stand in solidarity with Nigeria and communities across the globe in the fight against malaria, On behalf of the American people, the United States Government (USG) has taken extraordinary steps to curb the spread of this preventable and curable disease both in Nigeria and throughout Africa. Under the President’s Malaria Initiative, $1.2 billion is being made available over five years to expand resources to fight malaria.

The strategy in Nigeria, as elsewhere in Africa, is straightforward. First, prevention: the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets or the provision of indoor spraying to provide protection from malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and preventive malaria treatment to expectant mothers during pregnancy. Second, treatment: new and highly effective medicines are distributed and health workers are trained on the proper use of those medicines.

In Nigeria all of the above measures have been introduced but need to be greatly expanded to achieve national impact. The Nigerian government, working with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Bank, the UK Department for International Development, World Health Organization, UNICEF and others, is poised for a dramatic expansion of its control program over the next two years, including a target of reaching 80% of all households in Nigeria with long lasting insecticidal bednets by the end of 2010. The U.S. Government through USAID has doubled its contribution to $16 million this year in order to play a larger role in this historic effort.

Similar programs in Rwanda, Zambia, and Tanzania are already showing signs of major reductions in the proportion of people infected with malaria. At the same time in Rwanda and Zambia, there has been a striking reduction in deaths among children under the age of five. On the isles of Zanzibar in Tanzania, malaria infection rates have dropped to less than 1% throughout the population of 1 million. Malaria prevention and treatment measures are associated with and can contribute to these reductions. Regional and district-level impact has also been reported from Mozambique and Uganda. With national expansion of key interventions, Nigeria should see similar reductions in infections and deaths.

Sustainability of malaria control programs is a critical goal of USG efforts. In Nigeria, the U.S. Government through USAID is helping to build capacity by training people to manage, deliver, and support the delivery of health services, which will be critical for sustained successes against malaria and other infectious diseases. We also partner with community groups and faith-based organizations. They bring tremendous value to malaria control efforts given their credibility within their communities, their ability to reach the grassroots level, and their capacity to mobilize significant numbers of volunteers.

Across Nigeria and all of Africa, children and their families are sleeping under bed nets; local groups are teaching mothers to take anti-malarial drugs when they are pregnant and seek proper treatment for their sick children. In schools and villages, community centers and places of worship, clinics and hospitals, optimism is growing that we can and will succeed. We share that optimism. The United States will continue to galvanize action and spur grassroots and private sector efforts to control this disease.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ambassador Robin R. Sanders' Remarks at the First National Employment Summit

Remarks of U.S. Ambassador Robin R. Sanders

On the Occasion of the First National Employment Summit:

"Meeting the Employment Challenges of the Global Economic & Financial Crisis"

Remarks as delivered.
April 23, 2009, Transcorp Hilton
Abuja, Nigeria

All protocols duly observed.

Good morning. The timing of this summit is very appropriate. Today, we are experiencing a global economic and financial crisis that is challenging our confidence, creating insecurity in world markets and disrupting the lives of those who make up the backbone of our global economies –the men and women who make up the global work force. This also includes the workforce of tomorrow--our youth-- who face a bleak employment outlook and are at risk of not realizing their full potential.

The U.S. Government's efforts to ease the burden of the financial crisis are not just aimed at home. To assist those countries hit hardest by the crisis the United States and its global partners are moving to increase significantly the resources available to international financial institutions, and to modernize the governance of these institutions to better reflect the realities of today's world economy. Just two days ago, President Obama asked the U.S. Congress to increase U.S. contribution to the International Monetary Fund to one hundred billion dollars ($100 Billion).

In Nigeria, through our Framework for Partnership with the people and government of this country, my team at the U.S. Mission is investing in the people of Nigeria by emphasizing the rule of law and accountability of government to its people, and by supporting diversified economic growth so that people can support themselves and their families. I want to highlight for you a few examples of how we are working with you on job creation in Nigeria:

First of all, the U.S. Government's Africa Growth and Opportunities Act, or AGOA, provides trade preferences for duty-free entry of more than six thousand five hundred (6,500) different goods into the United States. By accessing AGOA, Nigerian companies have the opportunity to drastically increase exports to the United States, which in turn creates real jobs and real opportunities for real people.

Over the last two years, our Maximizing Agricultural Revenue and Key Enterprises in Targeted Sites program, or MARKETS, created nearly forty-five thousand (45,000) jobs along the value chains for rice, sorghum, and cowpeas. This program generated revenues of over $75 million and leveraged $20 million in credit. Productivity in these sectors increased by an average of 118%.

Another project of the U.S. Government, the Cassava Enterprise Development Project, created more than 7,000 jobs during the first nine months of 2008. It increased incomes by an additional $800,000 over the same time period and boosted productivity to over 25 tons per hectare from a baseline of less than 10.

One of the major roles of the U.S. Government's Commercial Service is to facilitate entry and participation of American companies into the Nigerian economy. In one example, at the end of last year the American company Cisco Systems had established 75 academies across Nigeria that trained over 6,000 Nigerians in technologies that will help them find and create jobs, to secure their livelihoods and their family's future.

As you develop your National Employment Program of Action, I encourage all of you to focus not only on creating employment opportunities but more broadly on promoting opportunities for decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equality, security and human dignity —for both men and women. These same fundamental rights apply to Nigeria’s children as well, who are especially vulnerable to the worst forms of labor as well as child trafficking. I urge you to not only prosecute and punish those who commit these horrible abuses, but also urge you to provide opportunities for children to enjoy their right to a good education and a bright future because, after all, they are your future.

I encourage you to reach out to all sectors of society to hear about their issues. In this way you can ensure that what is being done is what you as Nigerians truly want, need, and desire. The ultimate success or failure of an initiative depends on the buy-in of the people it aims to support.

This also includes organized labor. In closing I want to say that organized labor has a key role to play in the development of your National Employment Plan. Although in the past few months we have witnessed frustration from several of Nigeria’s unions, organized labor and management must come together to work toward mutually beneficial solutions for all Nigerians. And government must be a partner in development, fundamental to extending and strengthening your economic growth. The U.S. Mission to Nigeria is also ready to work in partnership with the people of Nigeria as we move together toward a new era of increased trade and investment, improved transparency, the transfer of best business practices, and support for government organized labor, and the private sector so that all Nigerians can realize their right to dignified and decent employment.

Thank you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Remarks by Robin R. Sanders at ECOWAS Conference

Remarks by Robin R. Sanders

Permanent Representative to ECOWAS And U.S. Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Nigeria

For immediate publication
Abuja, Nigeria
April 20, 2009

All protocols duly observed

It gives me great pleasure to be here this morning to participate in the opening ceremony of this conference on Security Sector Reform sponsored co-jointly by the esteemed and respected West Africa regional body ECOWAS and the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (or ACSS) of the United States of America.

I believe that we are all here today not only because we recognize and appreciate the leadership of ECOWAS under its august President, Dr. Chambus but also because we all know the importance of regionalization in order to further the political security economic social and developmental integration of the West Africa Region.

West Africa has come along way with ECOWAS at its helm on these issues and I am pleased to say that the United States of America through programs capacity building and training provided by the ACSS has played a supporting role in this progress.

Part of the reason why we are all here today is to ensure that there is continued movement on the things most important to a fully integrated West Africa that include first and foremost cooperation understanding coordination interoperability and -- last but not least -- respect among the militaries and civilian leadership of this region.

This conference is another step along the road to realizing all of these goals. During the next four days the participants in this conference will have not only the opportunity to discuss the future security framework of the region and the continent from governance to maritime issues but also how we can all work together to help post conflict countries make that delicate transition from elections to stability -- all key elements in the global society today and key parts of the global challenges that the world faces today particularly right here on the Continent.

In addition security sector reform for the region must be at the forefront of any resolution to these issues. We have all seen recently the fragile environments in some of the neighboring states including a number of coups which have tried to set parts of the region back. However we have seen the role and appreciate the leadership that ECOWAS as well as Nigeria as chairman has and is playing to ensure that the clock does not get turn back and that democracies continues to become the order of the day for the region.

For the conference participants I want to say something specifically to you. You represent not only the best thinkers and strategists of your nation but I see you as the planners of our future and how we work together to address conflicts build the peace and bridge differences across regions across nations and across continents.

You will be the civilian and military leaders at the mid-point of the 21st Century and it is your participation in conferences like this that will serve you and your nation well as we work together to ensure a peaceful future for the region and certainly for the Continent of Africa.