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)
UN Secretary-General visits Buhari At State House
The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday paid visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja.
He was received by top government officials.
Buhari’s conversation with Guterres centred on the need to ensure peaceful and democratic elections as well as the robust participation of women and young people in all areas.
President Buhari also thanked the UN boss for the visit, stressing that it came at a time when the world is focussing on the Russia/Ukraine crisis. Buhari also believes that the visit underscores the assurance that the world is with Nigeria.
On his part, the UN scribe called for developed nations to ramp up vaccine support to countries in the global north, halt the asymmetrical distribution and reform the global financial system.
Earlier in the day, he visited the UN House in Abuja alongside some top officials and diplomats of the agency.
Guterres is on a two-day official visit to Nigeria – the first of such.
The UN chief had arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday and also visited Borno State where he proposed the reintegration of repentant terrorists. This, he said, is key to the restoration of peace in the North East region.
“The best thing we can do for peace is to reintegrate those, that in a moment of despair, became terrorists but want to become now citizens and to contribute to the well-being of their brothers and sisters,” he told a gathering at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp.
The UN scribe is also expected to perform the wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the August 26, 2011, suicide bomb attack victims.
Ukraine : UN Agencies Condemn Attacks On Health Care Facilities
UN agencies on Sunday called for an immediate ceasefire and an end to attacks on healthcare professionals and facilities in Ukraine, describing such incidents as acts of “unconscionable cruelty”.
Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 31 attacks on health care have been documented via the WHO’s Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care (SSA), the heads of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Population Fund and the World Health Organization said in a joint statement.
“To attack the most vulnerable -– babies, children, pregnant women and those already suffering from illness and disease, and health workers risking their own lives to save lives –- is an act of unconscionable cruelty,” they said, calling for an immediate ceasefire.
In 24 of the reported attacks, health care facilities were damaged or destroyed, while in five cases ambulances were hit. A total of 12 people were killed and 34 injured, according to the UN agencies’ statement.
“Humanitarian partners and health care workers must be able to safely maintain and strengthen essential health service delivery, including immunisation against Covid-19 and polio, and the supply of life-saving medicines for civilians across Ukraine as well as to refugees crossing into neighbouring countries,” said the statement, signed by UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell, UNFPA counterpart Natalia Kanem and WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
At least three people were killed, including a young girl, in an attack Wednesday on a children’s hospital in Mariupol in southern Ukraine.
According to the United Nations’ reproductive health agency two other Ukrainian maternity hospitals had already been attacked and destroyed before that strike.
“Attacks on health care and health workers directly impact people’s ability to access essential health services -– especially women, children and other vulnerable groups,” the UN agency chiefs said in their statement on Sunday.
“We have already seen that the health care needs of pregnant women, new mothers, younger children and older people inside Ukraine are rising, while access to services is being severely limited by the violence,” the statement added.
Oxygen and medical supplies, including for the management of pregnancy complications, are running dangerously low, they warned.
“The health care system in Ukraine is clearly under significant strain, and its collapse would be a catastrophe. Every effort must be made to prevent this from happening,” the UN agencies warned.
“We call for an immediate ceasefire, which includes unhindered access so that people in need can access humanitarian assistance. A peaceful resolution to end the war in Ukraine is possible.”
Yoon Suk-yeol wins South Korea’s presidential election
Yoon Suk Yeol, a conservative former top prosecutor, has been elected South Korea’s new president, defeating his chief liberal rival in one of the country’s most closely fought presidential elections.
With more than 98 percent of the ballots counted, Yoon had 48.6 percent of the votes against his rival Lee Jae-myung’s 47.8 percent.
Yoon said on Thursday that he would honour the constitution and the parliament and work with opposition parties when he takes office as the country’s next leader, calling the election result a “victory of the great people”.
“Our competition is over for now,” he said in an acceptance speech, thanking and consoling Lee and other rivals.
“We have to join hands and unite into one for the people and the country.”
At a separate ceremony with supporters, Yoon said he would put top priority on “national unity,” adding all people should be treated equally regardless of their regional, political and socioeconomic differences.
“I would pay attention to people’s livelihoods, provide warm welfare services to the needy, and make utmost efforts so that our country serves as a proud, responsible member of the international community and the free world,” he said.
Yoon is to take office in May and serve a single five-year term as leader of the world’s 10th-largest economy.
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