Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Investing in Nigeria’s Future

Commentary by: Enoh Titilayo Ebong | USTDA Deputy Director


When I was growing up in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, my father used to say that his future was in his past. In other words, you can never know how what happens today might impact tomorrow.

My father, Ime James Ebong, used to regale my sisters and me with stories about rising through the ranks of the Nigerian Civil Service after the country gained independence in 1960. As the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Economic Development and Reconstruction, he worked to coordinate foreign investment that could help build infrastructure and promote growth. He believed strongly in a global Nigeria, and traveled to the United States many times to establish partnerships with American companies.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Deputy Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, visits MWF’s Fish and Poultry Feed Manufacturing Plant

Deputy Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, accompanied by the Assistant Secretary of State, Linda Thomas Greenfield, on Wednesday July 8 visited Ideal Agro Allied Services Ltd—a fish and poultry feed manufacturing plant owned by Mandela Washington Fellow Saidat Shonoiki.  Founded in 2006, Saidat has gradually expanded her company such that she now employs 14 workers and produces 2,500 large feed bags (30 tons) per month. Saidat is an animal food nutritionist. Her ‘excruded’ (floating) feed product competes with foreign brands from Germany, Israel and elsewhere, such that local farmers feel confident patronizing her products. Saidat’s plant is currently running at full capacity.  She is building an agricultural sustainability training center, Green Skills Initiative, with financial support from the World Bank to the tune of N7, 000,000 naira ($35,000).

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ramadan in the United States as a Mandela Washington Fellow

Almost nothing could quell my excitement as I emerged one of the 44 young Nigerians selected to participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship of President Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) in the United States. The program was to last six weeks at various academic institutions and the seventh week at the Presidential Summit in Washington, D.C. It was an honor then. It is a great honor now to call myself a Mandela Washington Fellow. There were so many things to look forward to; there were so many things that only experiencing would explain, but one thing stood out. It was the fact that the holy month of Ramadan would begin in the second or third week of our stay and end while I was in the States.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Preparing young Nigerians for leadership

US Ambassador James Entwistle poses with Norther Nigeria contingent to the 2015 YALI - Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy/Idika Onyukwu
A year ago, 45 young Nigerians from various parts of the country were selected to participate in President Obama’s first ever Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).  The White House developed this program in recognition of the critical and increasing role that young Africans are playing in strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security on the continent.  Those selected participated in the Mandela Washington Fellowship, a six-week academic and leadership program focused on business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, and public management at select U.S. universities.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Women as Peace Advocates

March is Women’s History Month in the United States.  It is set aside to focus on the contributions of women to the development of the country.  March 8 is also celebrated as International Women’s Day.
In his proclamation, U.S. President Barack Obama said, “Throughout history, extraordinary women have fought tirelessly to broaden our democracy’s reach and help perfect our Union.  Through protest and activism, generations of women have appealed to the values at the heart of our Nation and fought to give meaning to the idea that we are all created equal.”