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US Partners FG On Education, Maritime And Agriculture

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American, Turkish and Nigerian military personnel work in the exercise control group, which monitors and guides personnel during Exercise Obangame in Accra, Ghana. PHOTO: US Navy

THE Federal Government has signed a $100 million grant agreement with the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), an initiative partially funded by the United States government through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The grant will support Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, and Sokoto states to increase reading and writing skills, include more girls in basic education, and create a robust monitoring and evaluation system for the education sector. GPE focuses on increasing and maintaining equitable access to quality education globally.

In Nigeria, GPE’s goals are to strengthen community activism and local governance, expand access to education through community-based education, and increase the number of qualified female teachers in areas with high gender disparities.

GPE will help the Federal Ministry of Education to train teachers and increase access to quality primary education for Nigerian children. USAID’s Mission Director in Nigeria, Michael T. Harvey, said: “The U.S. government is pleased to be a supporter of GPE, and we are happy to see the agreement with Nigeria finalized.

Nigeria has laid out very ambitious goals under its national ‘Education for All’ programme, and we believe the GPE agreement will be essential to its success.” In addition to USAID, the GPE consortium in Nigeria includes the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, U.K. Department for International Development, UNICEF, and the World Bank.

The national partners are state governments, local civil society groups, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), and the Federal Ministry of Education.

The Oando Foundation serves as a private sector observer to the partnership. Also, 23 nations, including Nigeria, actively participated in the 2015 Obangame Express — a multinational maritime exercise sponsored by the U.S. Africa Command.

The purpose of the exercise is to test multinational maritime forces in a broad range of naval operations in order to increase capability and capacity, as a collective whole, for Gulf of Guinea nations to deter piracy, illicit trafficking, and other maritime threats.

The exercise which began on March 19, 2015, took place throughout the Gulf of Guinea, and will also have land-based Maritime Operations Centres throughout the region.

Major centres of international activity will be in the vicinity of Accra, Ghana. Speaking during a Telephonic Media Briefing coordinated by the Africa Regional Media Hub of the U.S. Department of State in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Officer in Tactical Command of Exercise Obangame Express 2015, U.S. Navy Captain John Rinko, stated that Nigeria deployed naval forces and resources for the exercise.

“Nigeria has three offshore patrol vessels, a patrol craft, one maritime patrol aircraft and four boarding teams and two special operating forces boarding teams that are engaged in the exercise. So Nigeria is certainly through its participation, has clearly indicated the importance of this exercise and the importance of maritime security.

“Suffice to say that we are encouraged by their significant continued support to this exercise series as we all recognize the importance of Nigeria’s efforts in maintaining maritime security in the region,” Rinko said.

According to him, the Obangame Express 2015 marks the fifth year of execution of the exercise, in which participation has more than quadrupled since its inception in 2010.

“The level of participation is indicative of the global importance of this region and the desires of the United States and our African, European and South American partners to continue to improve regional cooperation in the Gulf of Guinea.

Every nation participating plays a critical role in their own nation’s maritime security, as well as the security in the entire region,” he added.

The participating countries include: Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, Spain, Togo, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

In the same vein, the US Embassy in Lagos recently organized a training workshop in Ibadan on the control of the avian Influenza outbreak in Nigeria.

Speaking during the event, the US Consul General in Lagos Jeffrey Hawkins’ regretted that avian influenza outbreak is ravaging the poultry industry in Nigeria.

“I know each person trained here represents a ripple effect of knowledge and power to stop the spread of this epidemic. Avian Influenza, or Bird Flu, as we all know, is a serious threat to the economy, and human health.

We are fortunate that so far, there have been no human cases in Nigeria, but this outbreak has already taken its toll – with hundreds of farms infected, and hundreds of thousands of birds culled.

“We love our chicken, and we should feel safe and assured when we enjoy our favorite chicken dishes. Just as Nigeria tackled Ebola, it will control bird flu.

I do not know if any of you normally eat raw chickens or eggs. If you do, please do not do it now. With thorough cooking, those who eat chicken and eggs can be safe from this virus. “Many of the people here today were part of the 2006 bird flu response.

It shows your willingness and determination to control this outbreak. I appreciate the fact you are here to participate in two days of intensive training, bringing your skills to the table, sharpening and refining them, all in order to work more effectively together, and ultimately end this epidemic.

“I challenge all of you in the front-line to maintain your prowess, remain vigilant, and keep the surveillance system operating smoothly. In the U.S., we have had three major outbreaks of avian flu – one in 1924, a second in 1983, and another in 2004.

In 1983, 17 million birds had to be killed, costing the U.S. poultry sector over $400 million.” He recalled that in 2004, only 6,600 birds from one farm needed to be culled. “We got better at detecting and responding to avian influenza; now, Nigeria must get better, and continue getting better.

Prevention, detection, and containment – this is what must not be forgotten; it is part of the business, and must remain so.” According to him, Nigeria already has the foundation and structure to battle avian influenza. “Today, we are building on that strong foundation. I am honored to stand with you today and show our solidarity in combating this outbreak,” he said.


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