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We’ve interest in Nigeria because it determines Africa’s devt – US

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The United States of America’s Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, has said that the US government is strategically interested in Nigeria because the country practices democracy and is the sole decider in the growth of the African continent.

Ambassador Nuland said this during a press briefing with selected media correspondents on Thursday at the US Ambassador to Nigeria’s residence, Maitama, Abuja.

She said, “The way Nigeria goes is the way the continent goes. Concerning our strategic interest in the country, there’s always a war between authoritarianism and democracy, and considering the fact that Nigeria is the largest democracy in Africa, if Nigeria can become increasingly stable and secure, empower its population, diversify its economy and empower the next generation, it will be a powerful engine not only for itself but for the African continent and all democracies across the world.”

The Under Secretary, who also met with the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, at the State House, said the focus of her visit was concerning the issues of security, free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.

Nuland said, “We have been focusing on the issues of security, free, fair, credible, and peaceful elections. We also talked more broadly about our security relationship, but at the high end in terms of the holistic approach to security, earlier we delivered some Tucano jets, and we are about to have a new delivery of helicopters as well.

“Concerning our cooperation, we talked about the fact that security needs to be about countering terrorism at the high end, however, it also needs to be about what comes behind it – such as better governance, employment, and better opportunity, which would drive out the ability of terrorists and terrorism to return to communities.”

She noted that it was one thing to root out terrorists from communities, but the government must also provide sustainable policing, community security, better services, and good governance, otherwise, the terrorists would always be back.

“The way terrorists get into communities and destroy the fabric of the nation is ‘an evil thing.’ We think that Nigeria, with our support, needs to address this in a holistic way. However, what we are trying to do now in our collaboration with the government is to integrate the air and ground approach to security.”

Commending Nigeria for its leadership in the Economic Community of West African States, she said, “We need a regional approach to this problem because these terrorists are running across borders, and we all need to work together. Nigeria plays a huge role not only for its own security but also for the security of the region, through the ECOWAS.”

Nuland, who also met with some members of civil society organisations to discuss the forthcoming 2023 general election among other issues, noted that the U.S. was very pleased with the new Electoral Act and also the longer period for campaigns towards the elections.

She said, “We’re very pleased with the new Electoral Act and also the longer period for campaigns towards the elections. The United States will support the Independent National Electoral Commission, and the police, to provide security because we know there is quite a bit of anxiety about that.”

The Under Secretary also stated that the United States was interested in having investors in Nigeria, but there was a need to have an enabling environment considering the issue of corruption.

“The United States government would love to see more investors in Nigeria but there is a need for an enabling environment as corruption remains an obstacle.” She said.

The PUNCH had, on Wednesday, June 15, reported Ambassador Nuland’s visits to Djibouti, Mozambique, and her expected visit to Nigeria.

Her visit to the African continent began on Saturday, June 11, and ended on Friday, June 17, 2022.

In Djibouti, Nuland and an interagency met with government counterparts to advance US-Djibouti relations and the two countries’ close security cooperation.

While in Mozambique, she met with government officials and civil society members to discuss ‘the full range of bilateral and regional issues, including opportunities to advance stability and economic recovery in conflict-affected areas in support of her government’s new partnership’ under the US ‘Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability.

Ambassador Nuland was sworn in as Under Secretary for Political Affairs in April 2021. Before that, she was a Senior Counselor at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategic advisory and commercial diplomacy firm based in Washington DC. She was also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Distinguished Practitioner in Grand Strategy at Yale University, and a Member of the Board of the National Endowment for Democracy.

After 33 years as a U.S. diplomat, she served as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs from September 2013 until January 2017 under President Barack Obama.

She served as Special Envoy and chief negotiator on the Treaty on Conventional Arms Control in Europe from 2010 – 2011, and as Deputy National Security Advisor to Vice President Cheney from 2003-2005. In addition to two tours at NATO in Brussels, she had served overseas in Russia, China, and Mongolia, and various assignments at the State Department in Washington.

She was also State Department’s spokesperson during Secretary Hillary Clinton’s tenure, and U.S. Ambassador to NATO during President George Washington Bush’s second term, between 2005 and 2008

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Governor’s wife advises Jerusalem pilgrims on conduct

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The returnees who participated in the 2022 pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Jordan have held a thanksgiving service to appreciate God for the successful journey.

According to a statement issued by the state government, the service, held at Chapel of Christ The Light, Alausa, was graced by the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu.

Represented by the wife of a former Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mrs Mayowa Ikuforiji, Sanwo-Olu advised the returnees to be true ambassadors of Christ and allow their encounters during the pilgrimage to strengthen their relationship with God and the people around them.

The governor’s wife said, “You cannot afford to go back to your old ways and lifestyles. As you have been described as the light and salt of the world in the Holy Book, it means that you have a lot of tasks ahead of you.”

Sanwo-Olu then thanked God on behalf of the pilgrims for the successful completion of the exercise and the journey mercies experienced.

She said, “We bless the Lord that there was no report of any negative eventuality. It is fitting at this point to state that we are indeed peculiar people with a deep sense of appreciation and we show this trait in praises and thanksgiving to God who specifically called us out of darkness into His marvellous light.”

In her remarks, the Secretary, Lagos State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mrs Yetunde Gbafe, said the thanksgiving service was in line with God’s injunction as recorded in Psalm 100 where believers were enjoined to come into His presence with praise and thanksgiving.

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up oil spills – Report

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up decades-old oil spills in southern Bayelsa State over a 12-year period, a new report revealed on Tuesday, as it singled out two international oil companies, Shell and Eni, for being responsible for most of the pollution.

Oil majors in Nigeria have long faced legal challenges over Niger Delta spills, which they mostly blame on sabotage and vandalism of pipelines and illegal refining.

The Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission said in a report that it started an investigation in 2019 on the impact of spills and looked at evidence from forensic scientists, blood samples from people in affected areas and company data, according to Reuters.

The investigation discovered, among other findings, that toxic pollutants from spills and gas flaring were many times higher than the safe limits in samples of soil, water, air, and in the blood of local residents, the commission said.

“The report finds failures of strategy, prevention, response and remediation by oil companies,” it said.

Reuters stated that a spokesperson for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited said the oil firm was not privy to the final report and could not comment.

An Eni spokesperson said the oil spills were due to theft to feed illegal refineries as well as illegal exports and sabotage but the company undertook to remedy all spills.

Most of the gas produced from Eni’s Nigerian unit was converted into LNG and fed local power plants, the spokesperson said, adding that “Eni conducts its activities according to the sector’s international environmental best practices, without any distinction on a country basis.”

Toxins that cause burns, lung problems and risk of cancer were widespread while oil company-led clean-ups were often poorly executed and could further contaminate soil and groundwater, the commission’s report said.

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Experts advise marketers to leverage technology

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Experts have advised marketing professionals to take advantage of technology to revamp marketing tactics.

The marketers were admonished at the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria Ikeja Chapter 3rd Annual Public Lecture held recently in Lagos.

Speakers at the event said due to the highly competitive marketing arena, marketers must be willing to adjust their approaches in response to shifting market trends and economic circumstances, to remain competitive and achieve success.

The Ikeja Chapter Chairman of NIMN and Chief Executive Officer of Procon Group, Adebayo Oke, noted that the conference was basically to review the position of things in the institute in the face of the country’s dynamic economy.

He said, “We all know that in terms of political economy, we are going to be having a change very soon. Where we are coming from, there are issues that have affected consumerism in terms of the power of a consumer, choices and whether it will get tougher or better that is why we are here. To also share knowledge among the top practitioners to floor it down.”

According to him, a lot of quacks are in the market and most companies believe marketing is anybody’s function.

“And going forward, we are going to be regulating the practice of marketing across all industries and in partnership with the international brands in the areas of marketing, including the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK, amongst others,” he stated.

He disclosed that the institute would be partnering with most companies to ensure that only certified marketer would be allowed to practice marketing, to enable the institute get rid of all the quacks.

The President and Chairman of Council for NIMN, Idorenyen Enang, in his keynote address, highlighted the significance of marketers harnessing the potential of technology while ensuring that they adhere to ethical principles of the profession.

He said, “The benefits of technology in streamlining operations are widely appreciated. However, concerns about job displacement due to AI have arisen. Marketers must strive for a harmonious implementation of these technologies, striking a balance that mitigates such disadvantages.”

He added that while automation greatly enhances efficiency, there is a potential loss of intellectual capacity as the current generation prioritises speed, brevity, and simplicity.

Also, the Head Sub-Saharan Africa Digital Media & Insights of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Plc, Ifeoluwa Obafemi, said, “In the phase of technological advancement and changes in consumer behaviour, as marketing professionals, we should set our organisation in a future forward mode. For businesses to maintain a competitive edge in the present-day business environment, undergoing a marketing transformation is a necessary process.”

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Axiom Intel Limited, Kolawole Oyeyemi, said, “Marketers should attract and retain their customers. Nowadays, customers are now more informed and know your business more than you do because they now compare your services to global best practices.

“There is a revolution in technology which has assisted in creating tools and devices and building platforms to allow customers to interact with companies across the world.”

According to him, it is a volatile environment and things one does not think will connect one’s business may connect from a very long distance.

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