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Nigeria to reopen San Francisco mission in US

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Nigerian Embassy
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Nigeria will soon reopen its Consulate-General in San Francisco to provide consular services for the huge population of Nigerians residing on the West Coast of the US.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Gabriel Aduda, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York on Monday that the plan to re-open the mission had reached “an advanced stage.“

The Federal Government shut down the San Francisco, California, Consulate in 1989. The five-room, 4,250-square foot property is owned by Nigeria.

Aduda said: “We think rather than having Nigerians residing in California travelling to the East Coast or to the North Coast, they don’t have to travel that far.

“The mission (San Francisco) is very important and in the next few months, before the end of the year, the mission will be running,’’ he said.

The permanent secretary said that the ministry and members of the National Assembly committees on Foreign Affairs had visited all the Nigerian missions in the US in June for on-the-spot assessment.

“We visited the Embassy in Washington, DC, the New York Mission, the Atlanta Mission and we took a trip to San Francisco where we hope to re-open another mission that will service the West Coast,’’ he said.

On the state of facilities in the Nigerian missions, Aduda said there was the need for the facilities to be maintained as some of them had been in existence for so long.

“There is the need for upgrading, there is the need for routine maintenance and on the whole, service-wise, I think we were quite satisfied with what we saw at the missions.

“You will see that there are changes in all the missions in the US, especially Atlanta and New York, when it comes to the services that are being rendered to Nigerians.

“This is because, during the visit, it gave us the opportunity to discuss with the staff of the missions the new direction that the Federal Government is aiming,“ the said.

The permanent secretary said most of the challenges presented by the staff were immigration-related and they were already being addressed.

Aduda said Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) was totally responsible for producing passports and that the shortage of passport booklets was due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 slowed down a lot of things and we got a lot of backlog, so the inability to meet up is what created the problem in offering passport service to Nigerians abroad.’’

The permanent secretary assured Nigerians living in the US of improved services on passport issuance.

He said with the level of support the ministry was getting from NIS, the missions would not be talking about shortage of passport booklet by the end of the year.

The permanent secretary said the Nigeria High Commission in London had a backlog of about 19,000 passports but had been cleared in three months.

He said another batch of passport booklets had been received at the Consulate-General of Nigeria in Atlanta adding, a lot is being done and we are hoping that before the end of this year, we will be on a clean slate.

Aduda commended the Consulate-General in New York for providing improved passport services to Nigerians within its jurisdiction and for organising a cultural show to promote Nigeria’s rich heritage.

The permanent secretary said the consulate had adopted cultural diplomacy through the show to sell the good image of Nigeria to the world.

The consulate had on Saturday organised a cultural show, with the theme “Nigeria: Our Community, Cultures and Unity’’, to showcase Nigeria’s festivals, dances, and fashions, among others.

Aduda, who was at the event, said the consulate had promoted Nigeria’s culture in a way that people would able be to buy-in.

He said people would get to know the opportunities, the advantages and rich resources in the country, adding, “we are going to do more of the shows.

“We only showcased two festivals – the Osun-Osogbo and the Argungu Fishing Festivals – out of the diverse cultural festivals. We hope it will actually draw people to exploit the tourism potential of the country.

“If you look at Osun-Osogbo festival, you will notice so many foreigners; if you look at Argungu, you will see many foreigners, if you look at Calabar carnivals at the end of the year, it is the same.

“In fact, there was a time we had about 20 different countries in attendance at the Calabar carnival,  so apart from the economic benefit, you would have raised ambassadors that will go back with good image of the country.’’ (NAN)

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International

Ruto Sworn In As Kenya’s President

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William Ruto takes Oath of Office as New Kenya President
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William Ruto was sworn in as Kenya’s fifth post-independence president at a pomp-filled ceremony on Tuesday, after his narrow victory in a bitterly-fought but largely peaceful election.

He was sworn in by the Chief Judge, Martha Koome, on Tuesday at a ceremony held in the packed Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani.

Amid cheers from the excited crowd, Ruto swore an oath of allegiance and another oath for the execution of the functions of the office.

“I William Samoei Ruto, in full realisation of the high calling I assume as president of Kenya, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the public of Kenya, that I will obey, preserve and protect this constitution of Kenya,” he said.

Ruto beat his rival Raila Odinga — who had been backed by outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta — by less than two percentage points in the August 9 poll.

The 55-year-old rags-to-riches businessman, who once sold chickens on the roadside, now faces a daunting task to steer a polarised country gripped by a cost-of-living crisis and punishing drought.

His rise to State House has been closely watched by the international community, which looks to Kenya as a reliable and stable democracy in a turbulent region.

Foreign allies and independent observers praised the conduct of the vote, which was largely peaceful and free of the violence that has marred past elections in the country of 50 million people.

Ruto won by only around 200,000 votes out of 14 million but the Supreme Court on September 5 upheld his victory, dismissing his opponents’ claims of fraud and mismanagement.

Outgoing head of state Kenyatta, who in a stunning turn of events had backed his longtime arch-rival Odinga in the election race, has promised a smooth transfer of power.

Kenyatta finally shook hands with Ruto at a meeting at the presidential residence on Monday after pointedly failing to publicly congratulate his deputy for several weeks.
Ruto has struck a conciliatory tone, extending a “hand of brotherhood” to his rivals and their supporters.

“We are not enemies. We are Kenyans,” Ruto said after the court’s decision.

But Odinga turned down an invitation to attend Tuesday’s ceremony and instead travelled outside the country, charging in a statement that the election body did not conduct a “free and fair” poll.

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Queen Elizabeth II dies at age 96

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Queen Elizabeth II
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The United Kingdom’s longest serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II has died

The Queen died at Balmoral at the age of 96, after reigning for 70 years.

Family members gathered at Queen’s Scottish estate after concerns grew about her health earlier on Thursday.

The Queen came to the throne in 1952 and witnessed enormous social change.

With her death, her eldest son Charles, the former Prince of Wales, will lead the country in mourning as the new King and head of state for 14 Commonwealth realms.

A statement by the Buckingham Palace said: “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.

“The King and the Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”

All the Queen’s children travelled to Balmoral, near Aberdeen, after doctors placed the Queen under medical supervision.

Her grandson, Prince William, is also there, with his brother, Prince Harry, on his way.

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International

Pakistan Flood: Death Toll Tops 1,000

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Pakistan Flood: Death Toll Tops 1,000
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The death toll from monsoon flooding in Pakistan since June has reached 1,033, according to figures released Sunday by the country’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

It said 119 people had died in the previous 24 hours as heavy rains continued to lash parts of the country.

The annual monsoon is essential for irrigating crops and replenishing lakes and dams across the Indian subcontinent, but each year it also brings a wave of destruction.

Officials say this year’s monsoon flooding has affected more than 33 million people — one in seven Pakistanis — destroying or badly damaging nearly a million homes.

The NDMA said more than two million acres of cultivated crops have been wiped out, 3,451 kilometers (2,150 miles) of roads destroyed, and 149 bridges washed away.

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