Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nigerians Engage the Rest of the World in Global Conversation

On Wednesday, March 31, I met with key civil society leaders at the U.S. Embassy Rosa Parks Center in Abuja to discuss their participation in a live global Internet event called Global Pulse 2010. The three-day, online collaborative event was open to some 20,000 participants: anyone could log on from March 29-31 and take part in discussions of 10 pressing social issues that profoundly affect human existence.

Initiated by the U.S. government, Global Pulse 2010 heralds a new era of global engagement that tries to meet the challenges of the 21st century through partnership involving a wide variety of stakeholders. The live discussion program evolved in response to President Obama's speech in Cairo that called for new and different ways to engage the world.

Participants at the Abuja event included leaders from the Youth Action Initiative of Africa, the Climate Change Section of the Federal Ministry of Environment, The Women Today Newspaper, and the head of mission of the International Organization for Sustainable Development. Other participants came from the Center for Transformation of the Underprivileged; the Department of Political Science, University of Abuja; the Society for Youth Education on HIV/AIDs; and the Institute for International Journalism.

As the name implies, the event succeeded in taking the pulse of thousands of multi-country participants on key issues facing communities around the world. Themes for Global Pulse 2010 were divided among 10 social issues within the fields of science and technology, entrepreneurship, gender equality, and human development. The discussions also featured international leaders from government, private industry, and civil society organizations, along with influential individuals, who logged on to moderate the live conversations and to encourage participation. Global Pulse 2010 was hosted on a virtual platform developed by IBM.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

State Visits by Ambassador Robin Renée Sanders

State Visits of Nigerian States by Her Excellency, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Honorable Robin Renée Sanders

Courtesy Call on Governor Theodore Orji on (May 22, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Governor General Murtala Nyako (Rtd), Courtesy call on the Lamido of Adamawa, Policy Speech at American University of Nigeria, and Signing of the MOU for USTDA (October 18, 2008)

Courtesy Call on Governor Mr. Peter Obi (September 18, 2008), Courtesy Call on Obi of Onitsha (February 21, 2009), Courtesy Call on Eze Nri, Uli Women Painters, and Odinani Meseum (June 2009). Traditional Titles Confered on Ambassador Sanders: Ada Nri - First born meaning Daughter of Nri (February 21, 2009)

Akwa Ibom
Visit to Exxon Mobile (December 1, 2008)

Courtesy Call on Governor Mallam Isa Yuguda, Visits to American Corner and Yankari Game Reserve (April 1, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Governor Timipre Sylva, Visit to two vocational training sites

Courtesy Call on Governor Rt. Hon. Gabriel Suswam, USAID/MARKETS (Farmers program), Visit to OLAM Industries (March 1, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Governor Senator (Dr) Alhaji Modu Sheriff, Courtesy Call on the Shehu of Borno, Roundatable with prominent Islamic Scholars / Leaders, Visit to AGSP School, deliver Policy Speech (June 30, 2009)

Cross River

Courtesy Call on Governor Senator Liyel Imoke, Malaria Campaign Launch, tour of the Tinapa Business resort, the Marina Resort, National Museum and Obudu Cattle Ranch Resort (December 20, 2008)

Enroute to Bayelsa (Feb, 2008), Ambassador's Scholarship event with Mr. Bruce Onobrakpeya (May 20, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Governor Martins Elechi, Courtesy Call on the State First Lady, visit to PEPFAR Site at the Maternity Hospital (May 23, 2009). Traditional Titles Confered on Ambassador Sanders: Nne Oma of Ebonyi meaning Good Mother of Ebonyi (May 23, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Governor Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, Courtesy Call on Oba of Benin, visit University of Benin, met with acting VC, Visit to University of Benin Teaching Hospital, visit PEPFAR/USAID site at the Benin City Hospital, and visit CDC project site (February 12, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Governor Mr. Chime Sullivan, Visit to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, met with the VC and officials of the Faculty of Arts, visited with Uli painters at Inyi, visits possible american Corner sites (September 19, 2008 and June, 2009)

Met with DHRF winner, met with select CSO groups on recent elections and other issues in Ekiti State (July 6, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Deputy Governor, Courtesy Call on Emir, Visit to CDC Site at the Specialist Hospital, Visit Gombe State University, met with the VC, distribute books and bags to students. (June 29, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Governor Ikedi Ohakim, visit Igbo Cultural Center (May 22, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Governor Alhaji Sule Lamido, Courtesy Call on Emir, commission CDC/PEPFAR site (May 14, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Governor Arch. Namadi Sambo, visit AGSP school, donated bicycles to the Police at the Police Community Policing training event with INL, visit to ABU, Zaria, Call on the Emir of Zazzau, commissioning of CMSE food storage facility in Zaria, visit to Jaji training center, visit the ADF cashew processing project (July 20, 2008 and February 17, 2009 and two other times)

Courtesy Call on Governor Mallam Ahmed Shekarau, Courtesy Call on Emir, visit to American Corner, visited 2 USAID agro processing plants, Bayero University, commissioned a borehole with the 1st Lady of Kano State at a USAID integrated school and water program in partnership with Coca-Cola Nigeria, visit to A/G office, MIST books donation event and Black History month events (visited the State four times)

Courtesy Call on Deputy Governor, Courtesy Call on Governor Alhaji Ibrahim Shema, visit the Yar'Adua University, Pilot Engagement with States meeting, Signing of MOD with the Katsina State Gov, Policy Speech at the Yar'Adua University, courtesy call on Hajia Dada, Mother of President Yar'Adua, Courtesy Call on Emir of Daura (July 19, 2008, May 14, 2009, and Dec. 09, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Deputy Governor, Courtesy Call on Emir of Gwandu, visit to Emir's Women Microfinace group, visit PEPFAR site at the General Hospital (December 8, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Governor Alhaji Ibrahim idris, Courtesy Call on Olujummu of Ijummuland, Nike Cultural Center, distributed books and back packs at AGSP School, visited the state hospital (April 30, 2009). Traditional Titles Confered on Ambassador Sanders: Yeye Oba of Ijummu- Queen Mother of Ijummu land (April 30, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Governor Dr. Abubarkar Bukola Saraki, Courtesy Call on Emir of Ilorin, Iftaar dinner with Members of the State Executive Council, give remarks Kwara Free Malaria Campaign, visit to Shonga Farms
(September 21, 2008)

Courtesy Call on Governor Barrister Babatunde Fashola and various other projects such as visits to schools, Cultural programs; and Policy speeches; visit to the Lagos Business School, Fulbright (2 NIIA) Conferences, Ambassador Self Help Projects, American Corner, commissioning of the AGOA Center, Courtesy Call on Oba of Lagos etc (March 1, 2008 etc and more than 20+ visits to the State)

AGSP School, Keffi (January 30, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Governor, Chief Servant, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, Courtesy Call on Emir of Minna, visit the Federal University of Technology-FUT, visit New Horizon-AGSP School, meet with religious leaders, visit with former President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) (January 29, 2009 out of the two visits to the State)

Courtesy Call on Governor Otunba Gbenga Daniel, visit CDC blood transfusion site in Hospital. Also met with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Literature Nobel Prize Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka. (March 2, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Governor Dr. Olusegun Kokumo Agagu, visit to MARKETS Program -MATNA Farms cassava processing plant (July 6, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Governor Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Courtesy Call on Ataoja of Osogbo. (March 25, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Governor Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala, visit the University of Ibadan, visit the American Corner (March 25, 2009 out of the three visits to the State)

Courtesy Call on Governor Jonah Jang, Visit to American Corner, and Visited the University of Jos Teaching Hospital and CDC Project site (January 15, 2008)

NGO Roundtable with IFESH and USAID, CSO Roundtable with IFESH and PAS, IT Training, and visit to AGSP School (Feb, 2008 and May 20, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Acting Governor, Courtesy call on Sultan, Courtesy call on Governor, Visit the Usman Dan Fodio University, meet with VC, Faculty heads and University Governing body. YES program Roundtable, commissioning of CMSE Borehole and solar Panels at Goronyo, visits to the American Corner, meet with YES, Fulbrighters, Students etc, POLIO Plus Campaign with the Sultan (May 11, 2008 and December 07, 2009 out of the three visits to the State)

Courtesy Call on Governor Alh. Danbaba Suntai, Courtesy Call on Emir fo Muri, AGOA Seminar, visit to Highland Tea at Mambilla (November 12, 2008). Traditional Titles Conferred on Ambassador Sanders: Gimbiyan Muri - Princess of Muri - November 12, 2008

Courtesy Call on Governor Alhaji Mahmud Shinkafi (June 30, 2009)

Courtesy Call on Governor Alhaji Mamman Ali, Courtesy Call on Emir, visit to USAID Fistula Hospital and Training Center at the Gusau General Hospital (May 10, 2008)

Various programs, meetings, courtesy calls and events at the Ambassador’s Residence

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

CCA DVC event: Best Practice IT Meeting, US companies hear 1st hand about Nigeria; Speech at Petro Club On Political Events

One of the Best Practice IT events that I have done recently is a March 4 Digital Video Conference with the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), chaired by me in Lagos, and the CCA President in Washington, D.C.: American companies talking to American companies on both sides of the Atlantic. It does get any better than this! Companies shared information first hand across the seas, and it was interesting and informative to see US companies engage with each other with those on ground here in Nigeria providing real experiences on investing in Nigeria, with those interested in either doing more or starting business in Nigeria. There was a better appreciation by all of the political environment, the potential, the challenges and the way forward. Bottom line for me. American businesses need to be here in more force as return on investment, emerging market of 150 people out weights not only the risks, but never count out the Nigeria resiliency.

Uncertain Political Times for Nigeria Continue - My March 5 speech at the prestigious Petroleum Club focused on the political uncertainty in Nigeria as the country transitions more leadership and authority to the new Acting President of Nigeria encouraging Nigerians to support these efforts in the spirit of moving its democracy forward. We expect more changes in the coming days. I also pressed Nigeria on the need for election reform, development in the Nigeria Delta, and proper energy reform to ensure that both the Petroleum Industry Bill and the Local Content Bill are fair and equitable to international partners, and timelines are realistic and fair. Lots of questions on the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) country of interest for Nigeria. I pushed back saying talking off my shoes twice does not bother me if it means more safety for the flying international public. We all need to be thankful that 278 people did not perish on December 25, 2009, we appreciate the air marshals agreement, and we look forward to working with Nigeria as a global partner on counter terrorism issues.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Nigeria: Cassava-to-Glucose Factory, National Day, Ailing President

On February 25, U.S. Mission Nigeria hosted its National Day in Abuja to a crowd of nearly 700 people, with the U.S. Navy Band playing and the wonderful Nigerian singer Age Bika. The crowd was wowed by their performances, and guest were treated to food from all across America. My speech focused on the uncertain political times in Nigeria with the return of the ailing President, a kind and thoughtful person. The USG wishes him well and counts on Nigerian leaders to do the utmost to stay on democracy's path. Key attendees were the Secretary of the Federal Government and the new Attorney General of the Republic. (see photo album)

On February 28, the Consulate General in Lagos did its National Day celebrations under the direction of the Consul General. I attended as well to greet and take photos with our wonderful company sponsors who always support our national day activities. There were about 750 guest at this event and the talented young men and women from the Lagos American International School played as fire works hovered over the water. My brief remarks here also focused on keeping Nigeria's democracy on the right path.

On February 22, Had pleasure today to sign a $162,000 USG Grant, along with the USAID Mission Director by which the USG will assist Nigeria Nigeria in one of its principal development goals of obtaining 10,000 megawatts of electricity by the end of 2011. The USG will work with Independent Power Producers Association on this key programs that will also include USG efforts on climate change to help identify renewable energy, reduce gas flarings -- important issues to reduce carbon foot print.

On February 21, The Formers Did A Great! Job: Bush and Rice at This Day Awards. Former President Bush and Former Secretary of State Rice showcased statesperson-ship when they discussed leadership, Nigeria's place in Africa and the world, noting Nigeria must move forward on its democracy. Highlight was a talk-around with Bush and former UK PM Blair moderated by former SecState Rice on the actions during their tenure, the importance of Africa, their love for the continent, and their legacies of development, debt relief, and combating AIDS. Rice gave frank talk at evening event to a gala crowd of 1000 on the impact of her history on who she is today, and her good wishes for Nigeria as it charts the way ahead. Having served as Ambassador to Republic of Congo under both, they included me in their meeting with the newly names Acting President of Nigeria. Key points sometimes circumstances make great leaders, rise to the occasion with transparent 2011 elections, fighting corruption, and good governance. (see photo in album)

On March 2, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with nearly 100 farmers involved in a cassava cooperative and a local factory that changes cassava to glucose. The USG provides technical assistance to the Ekha Agro Factory whose managing director is a dynamic young woman. This is the first factory of its kind in Nigeria, and the first in West Africa! With USG technical assistance, we have been able to help 1000 local farmers in 3 states -- Ogun, Oyo, and Lagos -- increasing their yields and their incomes. This project is both income-generating and helps build a sense of community and cooperation among the farmers, as they all work together on each other's crops in support of greater yields, which means more income. Farmers First!!

On March 3, I had another active day raising the profile of the USG in the agricultural sector. I spoke with a number of small and medium size entrepreneurs at the launching of the USG's Nigerian Expanded Export Promotion Project or NEEP which is through USAID and the West Africa Trade Hub. NEEP will train small business persons to identify their markets in the U.S. and in the West Africa region in order to export their products, and help them improve the quality of their products, particularly in shea butter and textiles. The goal is to have their products reach export-quality levels or increase their outputs. Nearly 100 small business persons attended the NEEP launch and were beneficiaries of the first training event. I learned there was a U.S. Shea Butter Institute in Atlanta - who knew! (see photo in album)