Drought: U.S. provides over $331m additional humanitarian assistance to Ethiopians

By sdnonline

Secretary of State, Antony Blinken on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 announced that the United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing an additional $319 million in lifesaving humanitarian assistance for the people of Ethiopia and $12 million through the State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) to support refugees, asylum-seekers, and people affected by conflict and drought.

Communities across southern and southeastern Ethiopia face a potential sixth consecutive below-average rainy season from March-May 2023, which threatens to further exacerbate the suffering of millions already reeling from the effects of unprecedented drought. At the same time, the country is grappling with insecurity and recovering from the hostilities in northern Ethiopia’s Afar, Amhara, and Tigray regions. Combined, the conflict and historic drought have generated catastrophic levels of need, leaving at least 20 million people requiring humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia. Ongoing drought worsens growing food insecurity, crop and livestock losses further devastate livelihoods, and limited access to safe water creates a breeding ground for disease.

Today’s announcement will allow USAID partners to provide critical aid for more than five million people across Ethiopia. This includes emergency food assistance to severely food insecure families; nutritional support to prevent and treat malnutrition among pregnant and lactating women and children under five; farming and agricultural support to prevent crop and livestock losses; urgent health treatment; clean water to prevent disease outbreaks often prevalent during drought; and support to protect women and children from a higher risk of violence as a result of this ongoing emergency. The $12 million in additional funding from PRM will help provide lifesaving assistance for the more than 888,000 refugees and asylum-seekers currently living in Ethiopia.

The United States remains the single largest humanitarian donor to Ethiopia, providing more than $1.8 billion in life saving assistance since fiscal year 2022. But, it will not be enough to address the staggering level of needs. Even if adequate rains occur in 2023, recovery from a drought of this magnitude will take years. The United States has stepped up to meet the majority of immediate funding gaps to save lives now, but we need other donors to mobilize to reach Ethiopia’s most vulnerable communities.

“The Elections of February 25”


By: Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria

The people of Nigeria demonstrated their dedication to democracy on February 25, but there are many angry and frustrated Nigerians as well as many who are celebrating victories they believe were hard-fought and well-earned. In the coming days, it will be important for the future of this country that Nigerians not let their differences divide them, and that the legally established process for resolving challenges to the election be allowed to take its course. We commend Mr. Obi and Mr. Abubakar for their recent statements committing to take this path, and Mr. Tinubu, who INEC declared the president-elect under Nigeria’s electoral framework, for acknowledging their right to do so.

The United States is no stranger to election-related controversy and conflict. As much as it can be unsatisfying to end an electoral process in a courtroom, in a constitutional democracy bound by the rule of law, that is where electoral conflicts may appropriately conclude.

It is clear that the electoral process as a whole on February 25 failed to meet Nigerians’ expectations. As I said numerous times prior to the elections, Nigeria has accomplished much in just the two-plus decades since the return to democracy, and a gradual improvement in the quality of its elections in that time constitutes one of those accomplishments. We recognize that Nigerians want that positive trend to continue, including through the use of new technology intended to make the process of reporting results more transparent. We thus reiterate our call on INEC to address promptly the challenges that can be resolved ahead of the March 11 gubernatorial elections, and to undertake a broader review of the problems that transpired during the last elections and what can be done to fix them. In all cases, INEC should share with the Nigerian public information about the actions it is taking.

I also want to highlight some of the remarkable results from this past election that show how Nigeria’s political landscape is indisputably changing. In more than half of the states – 20 – the winning candidate represented a different party than that of the incumbent governor. Twelve of these states are led by APC governors. For the first time, four presidential candidates won at least one state, and the top three each won 12 states based on these initial results. In the National Assembly elections, even with results still incomplete, we already know that changes are afoot: seven sitting governors lost in their attempts to win election to the Assembly; the Labor Party has won at least seven seats in the Senate; the NNPP has won at least 11 seats in the House of Representatives.

The Nigerian people have made clear their desire for responsive and inclusive governance, and we strongly support their ability to express that desire. The United States and Nigeria are the two largest presidential democracies in the world, and longtime partners. As Nigeria goes through these next weeks and months, we stand with you.

I shall be a fair leader to all Nigerians – Tinubu, President-elect

By sdnonline

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the All Progressive Congress (APC) Presidential candidate in the February 25, 2023, presidential elections has pledged that his administration would be based on the tenet of democratic principles built on fairness. He made the statement in his acceptance speech titled “Era of Renewed Hope” after he was declared winner of the presidential election in Nigeria.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the result early hour on Wednesday, March 1, 2023.

18 candidates had contested for the soul of Aso Rock on Saturday, February 25, and the results as announced by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, showed that APC Bola Tinubu had the highest votes to emerge as the president-elect of Nigeria, also having satisfied the statutory requirements of wining 25 percent of votes in at least 24 States of the Federation.

In the report across the top four votes for candidates of All Progressive Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP) and New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Bola Tinubu of APC had 8,794,726, Atiku Abubakar of PDP had 6,984,520, Peter Obi of LP had 6,101,533 and Rabiu Kwankwaso of NNPP had 1,496,687 respectively.

In his acceptance speech, president-elect, Bola Tinubu said “I shall be a fair leader to all Nigerians.”

And to the youths of the nation, he said, “I hear you loud and clear. I understand your pains, your yearnings for good governance, a functional economy and a safe nation that protects you and your future.”

Below is the full text:

March 1, 2023

My fellow Nigerians,

I am profoundly humbled that you have elected me to serve as the 16th president of our beloved republic. This is a shining moment in the life of any man and affirmation of our democratic existence. From my heart, I say thank you.

Whether you are Batified, Atikulated, Obidient, Kwankwasiyya, or have any other political affiliation, you voted for a better, more hopeful nation and I thank you for your participation and dedication to our democracy.

You decided to place your trust in the democratic vision of a Nigeria founded on shared prosperity and one nurtured by the ideals of unity, justice, peace and tolerance. Renewed hope has dawned in Nigeria.

We commend INEC for running a free and fair election. The lapses that did occur were relatively few in number and were immaterial to the final outcome. With each cycle of elections, we steadily perfect this process so vital to our democratic life.

Today, Nigeria stands tall as the giant of Africa. It shines even brighter as the continent’s biggest democracy.

I thank all who supported my campaign. From President Buhari who adeptly led my campaign as its chairman, to my Vice Presidential Candidate, Senator Kashim Shettima.

To the progressive governors of our party and this nation, to the party leadership, to our loyal party members. I owe you a debt of gratitude. To the entire campaign organization, I thank you sincerely.

I thank my loving wife and dear family whose support was ceaseless and inspiring. Without you, this victory would not be possible.

I am grateful to Almighty God. By His mercy, I was born a son of Nigeria and through His sublime purpose I find myself the victor of this election. May He grant me the wisdom and courage to lead the nation to the greatness He alone has destined for it.

Finally, I thank the Nigerian people for their abiding belief in our democracy. I shall be a fair leader to all Nigerians. I will be in tune with your aspirations, charge up your energies and harness your talents to deliver a nation that we can be proud of.

To my fellow candidates, former VP Atiku, former governor Kwankwaso, former governor Obi and all others, I extend the hand of friendship. This was a competitive, high-spirited campaign.

You have my utmost respect.

Political competition must now give way to political conciliation and inclusive governance.

During the election, you may have been my opponent but you were never my enemy. In my heart, you are my brothers.

Still, I know some candidates will be hard put to accept the election results. It is your right to seek legal recourse. What is neither right nor defensible is for anybody to resort to violence. Any challenge to the electoral outcome should be made in a court of law, and not in the streets.

I also ask my supporters to let peace reign and tensions fade. We ran a principled, peaceful and progressive campaign. The aftermath of our campaign must be as benign.

Yes, there are divisions amongst us that should not exist. Many people are uncertain, angry and hurt; I reach out to every one of you. Let the better aspects of our humanity step forward at this fateful moment. Let us begin to heal and bring calm to our nation.

Now, to you, the young people of this country, I hear you loud and clear. I understand your pains, your yearnings for good governance, a functional economy and a safe nation that protects you and your future.

I am aware that for many of you Nigeria has become a place of abiding challenges limiting your ability to see a bright future for yourselves.

Remodeling our precious national home requires the harmonious efforts of all of us, especially the youth. Working together, we shall move this nation as never before.

My running mate, Vice President-elect Shettima, and I understand the challenges ahead. More importantly, we also understand and deeply value the talent and innate goodness of you, the Nigerian people. We pledge to listen and to do the difficult things, the big deeds, that put us on the path of irreversible progress. Hold us firmly to account, but please give us a chance first.

Together, we shall build a brighter and more productive society for today, tomorrow and for years to come.

Today, you have given me the greatest honor you can bestow on one man.

In return, I will give you my utmost as your next president and commander-in-chief. Peace, unity and prosperity shall be the cornerstones of the society we intend to build. When you gaze upon what we shall accomplish in the coming years, you shall speak with pride at being a Nigerian.

I thank you all.

God bless you all.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

When CEE- HOPE sensitises Lagos communities on dangers of FGM

By sdnonline

As part of the efforts to bring to fore the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE) has urged Lagos communities to refrain from encouraging the undesirable cultural practice. This was the hallmark of seminar organised to mark the 2023 International Day of Zero Tolerance for female genital mutilation.

The seminar, which held at the International Press Centre Conference room in Ogba had participants drawn from various Lagos communities, including, Monkey Village, Makoko among others

In her welcome remarks, the Executive Director, CEE-HOPE, Betty Abah noted that in many parts of Nigeria, and other African countries, there is a culture of Female Genital Mutilation otherwise known as female circumcision.

She noted that it is human right violation that should not be encourage.
According to her:
“Why it is even more dangerous is that so many girls every year die in the process because when they cut the clitoris, some of them bleed to death and even these traditional women may use only one razor for over a hundred girls and thereby infect them. That is why the United Nations set aside the day to sensitise people against the act.”

Abah advised those present at the seminar to take the message against female genital mutilation to their various communities and also report anyone caught in the act.

Addressing the participants, Executive Director, Women’s Rights and Health Project (WRAHP), Bose Ironsi, bemoaned that Nigeria is still ranking very high in terms of prevalence of female genital mutilation.

She said that the day is celebrated globally to create awareness and sensitise the general public when it comes to the issue of female genital mutilation.

“Nigeria is still ranking very high in terms of prevalence of female genital mutilation, a lot has also been done because there are a lot of people that are no longer practicing it, but some of them have gone underground, because there is a law passed by the Federal Government. What you find out is that a lot of people are not doing it openly; they have now decided to go underground. There are a lot of sensitisation, a lot of changing the mindset as to why they are doing it.

“If you really look at why they are doing it, there is no medical reason to why they are doing it, but they are doing it because of cultural reasons. And it is against the rights of the female,” she said.

She explained that with the sensitisation, they are trying to change the mindset of people practicing it, noting that one of the main reasons for female genital mutilation is because they do not want the lady to be promiscuous.

“Circumcision has no bearing on virginity, and it even causes more harm. It has no medical reason, rather it brings a lot of pain, depression, even death. Some of them are having mental issues, some of them have bled to death, some of them are having issues with even allowing men to touch them.

“Men need to be engaged, let them be the one that will advocate that they will rather want to marry a woman that is not circumcised than marry a woman that is circumcised. If the men are saying this, then, there will be no problem,” she charged.

Some of the female participants who had been circumcised shared their gory experiences at the seminar, stating that they would not allow their girl child to go through the painful experience.

U.S extends tourist visa validity for Nigerians to five years

By sdnonline

Effective March 1, 2023, the U.S. Mission will increase visitor visa validity from 24 months to 60 months for Nigerians who want to enter the United States temporarily for business and/or tourism.

The visa validity extension allows Nigerians to use the visa for 60 months to make short trips to the United States for tourism or business purposes before having to renew their visa. The visa application fee, currently USD160, will not increase as a result of the increased visa validity.

“Increasing visa validity is one of several initiatives taken by the United States to reduce visa appointment wait times in Nigeria. The U.S. Mission continues to offer No-Interview Visa Renewals to those who meet the eligibility criteria. Appointments for No-Interview Visa Renewals are readily available,” the U.S Mission said in a press statement.

No-Interview Visa Renewal

You may be eligible for a visa renewal without an interview if your application is for a B1/B2, F, M, J (academic only), H, L, or C1/D (combined only) visa, And you meet each of the following criteria:

You are physically present in Nigeria.
Your previous visa was issued in Nigeria.
Your previous visa is in the same classification as your current application.
Your previous visa was a full-validity, multiple-entry visa.
Your previous visa expired within the last 48 months or will expire in the next three months from the date of application.
You have all your passports covering the entire period since receiving the previous visa and the passport with the most recent visa.
You have never been arrested or convicted of any crime or offense in the United States, even if you later received a waiver or pardon.
You have never worked without authorization or remained beyond your permitted time in the United States.

The U.S mission informed that processing times for the programme are expected to be up to two months and you will not be able to retrieve your passport during that time.

Each applicant must individually meet the criteria; minors can apply without an interview only if they meet the eligibility criteria on their own.

Emergency Appointments

If you have a life-or-death emergency, you may request an expedited, in-person interview; however, to accommodate No-Interview Visa Renewals, appointments will be very limited.

Business travel, conferences, weddings, and graduations are not considered emergencies. If you have an emergency and need to travel immediately, please follow the guidance.

Similarly, third parties unaffiliated with U.S. Embassy Abuja and Consulate General Lagos may seek to take advantage of various visa services to target visa applicants with fraudulent offers or claims.

Applicants should fill out their own forms and make their appointments themselves via the official websites.

As future opportunities for Interview Waiver appointments become available, they will be communicated via our website.

2023 elections: Enthusiasm, pitfall trail voting as Nigerians cast their votes

By our reporters

Nigerians on Saturday, February 25, 2023 performed their civic right by casting their votes for their preferred presidential, senatorial and House of Representatives candidates.

When SDNONLINE moved round, there were security operatives around polling units to protect voters and officers of the electoral body. Roads that are prone to traffic were free and easy to ply due to restriction of movement of people and vehicles. Markets, shops, offices were under lock and key for people to vote their preferred candidates.

It was a mixed experience across the States as Nigerians went out to vote for their choice candidates. While some areas experienced high turn out, some were low. In some areas, INEC officials did not arrive on time and some had to start voting around 11am and 12pm.

In Lagos state, some areas recorded high turn out of voters. For example, the vote which was supposed to start at 8.30am with accreditation of voters did not start at exact time in some polling units. In some places, voting did not start until 10am while in some 11am.and 12pm respectively. However, in few places like Lekki, Polling unit 071, voters could not exercise their franchise due to absence of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officers.
As expected, police were seen at the polling units to provide protection to both INEC officers and voters. There were police vans as well as military vans patrolling the environment to forestall any violence.

However, unlike before when youths would turn the roads to football pitch, there was nothing like that as most youths were seen across the polling centres to vote. In some areas, even the sick were seen being aided to the polling units to cast their votes. However, in Lekki, some voters were unable to vote as a result of absence of INEC officers to administer voting materials.

“We have done our best, we leave the rest for God to touch the heart of our leaders,” said a voter who claimed anonymous.

In Ogun state, electorate also came out to cast their votes. Some areas also witnessed late arrival of INEC officers.
At Oba T.T. Dada, Ota Market, INEC officers arrived at 10.50am while electorate were already waiting. At Open field polling unit, opposite Canaanland, voters turned out enmass to cast their votes. Generally, the voting was peaceful.

A voter said, “I just finished voting at Liberty Estate gate, magboro, very orderly and peaceful.”
Observation showed that preferences were given to elderly and pregnant people.

In Cross River, voters were seen carrying out their civic right. However, INEC officers were late in some areas and there was allegation of vote buying in some areas as well.
There was high turn out at the four polling units at Satellite Town while at Abong Aseng polling booth, voters were yet to vote as at 12.30pm. At Etta-Agbor, Batabe/Amika Odu layout and Etonko polling units, people cast their votes without any problem.

At Atu by Golden Round About, Atu Secondary School, Atu by Nelson Mandela, Lutheran Primary School, Atu, there were no problems.

However at Atu by Academy, there was slow administration of voting materials as many were yet to vote as at 12.30pm.

“I got to the polling unit at 8am and did not vote until 11am. As at 12.30pm, about 800 people are yet to vote,” said a voter.
At Palm Street, INEC officers started attending to electorate at 11am.

In Bayelsa State, some polling units also experienced late arrival of INEC officers.
While casting his vote, Former President Goodluck Jonathan expressing his views on the conduct of the election said, “INEC should improve on distribution of election materials.”

2023Elections: We strongly support peaceful, transparent process in Nigeria – Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden has thrown his weight to a peaceful and transparent general elections in Nigeria.

Speaking after the presidential candidates signed peace accord on Tuesday, February 22, 2023 towards peaceful election, President Biden said, “I commend yesterday’s peace accord in Nigeria, signed by the political parties and candidates running in Nigeria’s presidential election on February 25. By signing this pledge, the parties and candidates have committed to accept the results of the election, as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, and to support a peaceful transition of power.

He declared that elections are a fundamental part of a functioning democracy, and all Nigerians deserve this chance to choose their future — freely and fairly. “While the United States does not support any single candidate or party, we strongly support a peaceful and transparent process that reflects the will of the people of Nigeria.

On election day, I encourage all Nigerians — no matter their religion, region, or ethnicity —to exercise this fundamental freedom and make their voices heard — including young voters, many of whom may be heading to the ballot box for the first time,,” he said.

He stated that the United States stands with the Nigerian people as they chart a path toward a more democratic, prosperous, and secure future. “I appreciate President Buhari’s firm commitment that the will of the people will be respected. And in the coming days, I encourage voters to remain peaceful and patient as their ballots are tallied, and urge the political parties and candidates to live up to their pledge.”

UNILAG Alumni Association elects new National Executive Committee

By sdnonline

The University of Lagos Alumni Association has elected new National Executive Committee that would steer the leadership of the association for the next two years. At a keenly contested election, Engr. IfeOluwa Oyedele, FNSE was elected as President (Worldwide) of the Association.

The e-voting took place on Sunday, December 18, 2022, same day with the association’s 2021 Annual General Meeting, (AGM21), which held in Ikeja, Lagos.

Presenting the results of the election, the Chairman, Electoral Committee, Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole said that the electronic voting system was adopted in order to ensure that eligible voters who could not participate in a physical voting exercise were not disenfranchised.

Dr. Olawale-Cole who is also a past President of the Association expressed delight that election was free and fair, noting that the exercise was devoid of any complaint.

The newly elected National Executive Committee also include: Dr. Bala Yesufu, 1st National Vice President, Lady Azuka Azinge, 2nd National Vice President, Chief Adebisi Ogundipe, National Secretary and Mr. Otobong Matthew, Assistant National Secretary.

Others are: Mrs. Funmi Falobi, National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Francis Shonubi, National Social Secretary, Barrister Soni Oghenegare Bobi, National Legal Adviser, Mr. Rasul Taiwo, National Financial Secretary, Mr..Harris Alade, Treasurer and Mr. Owoeye Abayomi, National Internal Auditor. The Ex-Officio are: Prof. Khalid Adekoya, Mr. Lekan Ajisafe, Hon. Olumide Akinola and Dr. Abdul Gbadamosi.

In his inaugural speech President, Worldwide, Engr. Ife Oyedele, FNSE, assured that the new National Executive Committee under his leadership would build on the solid foundation laid by the predecessors and work assiduously to retain members confidence and support.

“We will remain your servant by serving with loyalty, dedication and humility to the highest level of integrity. We will defend the Constitution, Ethos and Ethics of the association. By so doing,u we will build an enduring legacy, with the help and collaboration of all critical stakeholders. In this regard, we will strive to continue with the execution of all projectsu conceived by the previous administration,” he said.

He declared that the vision of the University combines the best of undergraduate education with a strong compliment of distinguished graduate programmes aimed at meeting strategic, national and global needs. “We must assist the university authority to build on this clear and rich history to make UNILAG serve as a national and global model. This vision is not that of an isolated ivory tower, but rather of an institution that is fully engaged with innovative ideas as well as the forces and vicissitudes of a highly globalised world”, he added.

While commending the indelible contributions of the immediate past administration led by Dr. John Momoh, OON, he commended him and other past Presidents, officers and elders of the Association for the attainment of the lofty heights which the University of Lagos Alumni Association has been raised to. Oyedele said the Alumni Association must assist the University Administration by serving as the bridge builder between town and gown.

“As I receive the mantle of leadership of UNILAG Alumni worldwide, the vision of its founders challenge me to work together with my fellow alumni in strictly adherence to its motto: ‘In Deed and in Truth.”

‘On behalf of my colleagues, in whom you have reposed your collective trust, I pledge that our administration shall focus on our people and the Institution. We shall operate an open door policy with a seamless information flow aimed at ensuring robust and constant engagement with all our stakeholders. He further pledged that the new Administration shall continue in the tradition of transparency and accountability laid by its predecessors.

“While assuring that the administration will be focused on its set goals and objectives he promised to provide a conducive atmosphere for reconciliation, healing and unity so that together the aims and objectives of the Association can be achieved.

Earlier, in his valedictory speech, the immediate past President, Dr. John Momoh read out the strides attained by his administration.

While admonishing members to hold fast those values that would never go out of fashion – integrity, character, foresight, competence and dedication; Momoh charged the new national executive to lift the bar beyond wildest dreams.

L-R: Dr. John Momoh, Engr. Ifeoluwa Oyedele and Olorogun Sony Kuku
The newly elected National Executive Committee

… Putting people at the centre of development and facilitating inclusiveness and sustainable initiatives.

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