U.S. Consulate Public Affairs Officer Stephen Ibelli was in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital. His mission: To open on behalf of the U.S. Mission in Nigeria the Uyo Window on America in partnership with the University of Uyo. It is hosted at the Main Library of the University of Uyo. The Window on America will provide information about the United States, including its government, history, culture, and educational system through the books and electronic resources provided by the U.S. government.
Ibelli said the Window on America would promote mutual understanding between the United States and the people of Nigeria. He added that the Uyo Window on America would function as a hub for activities, opening its doors to young Nigerians looking to develop their ideas, as well as their leadership and entrepreneurship skills through programmes and workshops designed especially for them.
Ibeli said: “Young people are the strength of this nation. They will find a wealth of opportunities that could only be found at this space. We invite them to take advantage of this free service at this Window on America in Uyo as their place for engagement, education, and empowerment.”
University of Uyo Vice-Chancellor Prof. Nyaudoh Ndaeyo lauded the U.S. government for the partnership that culminated in the opening of the centre in the university. He expressed optimism that youth would benefit immensely from the free resources available at the Uyo Window on America.
A statement by the U.S. Mission explained that a “Window on America is a type of American Space located in over 150 countries worldwide. Windows on America host a variety of events designed to bring Americans and Nigerians closer together. Regular talks by U.S. Speakers, Embassy staff, Fulbright scholars, and other Americans will allow U.S. and Nigerian citizens to interact and exchange ideas”.
It added: “The Window on America will also provide a venue for the Embassy and Consulate outreach activities, offering a meeting place for U.S. Government alumni, and a host for visiting speakers, film series, and other events that promote a better understanding of the U.S.”
Two days after the Uyo event, the U.S. Mission opened a new EducationUSA Advising Centre in Calabar, the Cross River State capital. The Calabar EducationUSA Advising Centre, which is situated at the American Corner, 37 Ekpo Archibong Street, Calabar will offer “accurate, unbiased, and comprehensive information about educational institutions in the United States, as well as guidance to prospective students on how best to access those opportunities”.
U.S. Mission Counsellor for Public Affairs Aruna Amirthanayagam said the new EducationUSA Advising Centre would enable the youth in local communities in Cross River State and its environs to obtain a world-class education in the United States and then return home to contribute to Nigeria’s economic growth and development.
Amirthanayagam said: “We are very pleased to open an EducationUSA Advising Centre in Calabar. The centre offers a variety of free educational resources, including public information sessions, webinars, one-on-one, cohort advising, and hands-on support for completing the U.S. college and university application process.”
Ibelli said the education centres would assist many determined and talented, low-income students in Nigeria who only require financial resources and access to information to better their educational future. He added that applications for the 2021/2022 EducationUSA Opportunity Funds Programme would open on April 15 until May 31, 2021, adding that applicants were welcome from all the states in Nigeria.
Ibeli said: “In 2021, 19 high achieving, low-income students from southern Nigeria received full scholarships totaling $2.17 million to attend American universities and colleges for the 2020/2021 academic session. This feat was made possible through the Opportunity Funds Program of our EducationUSA Advising Center, with support from Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited.”
Speaking at the event, Cross River State Commissioner for Education Dr. Godwin Amanke expressed the readiness of the state government to partner with the U.S. Mission to expand access to the services of the new EducationUSA Advising Centre.
The latest Institute of International Education Open Doors Report shows that Nigeria is the number one source of African students studying in the United States. About 13,762 Nigerians study at more than 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities.
“Over the last 21 years, the EducationUSA Advising Centres in Nigeria have directly contributed to an increase in the number of highly qualified Nigerian applicants to the U.S. institutions,” a statement from the mission said.
The mission plans to add eleven new Windows on America to the family of American Spaces in Nigeria. They will be sited in Abeokuta, Awka, Benin City, Enugu, Osogbo, Zaria, Minna, Dutse, Markudi, Gombe and Lafia.
America last Wednesday launched a major initiative in Plateau State. The U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), announced a project to support the Plateau State government to implement an Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) Surge program to accelerate progress to reach HIV epidemic control.
U.S. Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard led the U.S. delegation to Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong at the Government House, Jos.
Leonard thanked Lalong for his government’s efforts to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the state and acknowledged his directive to eliminate user fees for People Living with HIV (PLHIV). She also appreciated the governor’s continued collaboration with the U.S. government on the implementation of the CDC Nigeria-led ART Surge programme in the State.
The U.S. delegation launched the ART Surge programme. The delegation advocated for the elimination of user fees for all people living with HIV, including charges for antenatal care for pregnant women living with the virus.
“We will achieve HIV/AIDS epidemic control in Plateau State if we continue to work together to remove all barriers. Barriers such as user fees, stigma, and discrimination impact health-seeking behaviours among people living with HIV. Our services must be client-centred, so we need to urgently reduce long wait times in facilities and reduce the number of clinical visits.
“The ART Surge program is helping us identify more people living with HIV and placing them on treatment while maintaining quality care for those already receiving treatment. These efforts are leading to better outcomes for those affected, thereby taking us to the finish line quicker than we earlier thought,” Ambassador Leonard said.
Deputy Governor Sonni Gwanle Tyoden launched the Plateau State ART Surge on behalf of the governor and promised to provide 55,000 HIV test kits to complement the over 120,000 already provided by PEPFAR. The additional test kits will help more PLHIV who are not on treatment to accelerate Plateau State’s efforts to eliminate the epidemic.
Leonard also visited the University of Jos Teaching Hospital (JUTH) and toured the U.S. CDC-supported ART clinic and laboratories. She interacted with the programme’s beneficiaries and the management staff of the hospital.