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USAID Gives $26.5m to Support Nigeria

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Nigeria has won a new funding of $26.5 million to support health care and good governance, courtesy of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

USAID supports Nigeria’s health system
USAID supports Nigeria’s health system
The agency said at the weekend that the additional support to Nigeria was made because of the country’s achievement in the development goals outlined in the bilateral Development Objectives Assistance Agreement signed in 2015,

The agreement was signed between the U.S. and Nigerian governments.

The Acting Mission Director, Erin Holleran, confirmed the new financial support and said that USAID would partner with federal and state health ministries to build stronger health systems.

The is aimed at guaranteeing equitable access to quality healthcare services nationwide.

He said: “$25 million will strengthen good governance by supporting state governments’ efforts to bolster Nigeria’s Open Government Partnership commitments to improve transparency and fight corruption.

“An additional $1.5 million will support a healthier, more educated population in targeted states through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), for a total of $26.5 million in additional assistance”.

The additional new funding brings the total U.S. government assistance provided under the five-year Development Objectives agreement to $1.1 billion.

According to Holleran, the USAID is committed to assisting Nigeria because of the huge influence the nation has on the future of Africa.

“The United States believes that as the most populous country in Africa, with the largest economy on the continent, Nigeria holds tremendous influence over the future of Africa.

“USAID is committed to partnering with the government and the people of Nigeria to address its development challenges,” Holleran said.

USAID collaborated with Nigeria’s ministries of Budget and National Planning, Health, Agriculture, Power, and Education, as well as state-level government counterparts to structure the bilateral assistance agreement, which runs through 2020.

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Pope Francis Arrives Ireland For Historic Visit

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Pope Francis touched down in Dublin on Saturday for a historic two-day visit to Ireland, where the Catholic Church is battling to regain trust following multiple scandals.

Pope arrives in Ireland
Pope arrives in Ireland
His Alitalia “Shepherd One” flight landed under cloudless skies at 10:26am (0926 GMT), where deputy head of government Simon Coveney and his children were waiting to meet him with a bouquet of white and yellow roses with Irish foliage.

Hundreds of thousands of wellwishers and over a 1,000 journalists are expected to follow Francis during his tour of Dublin and County Mayo in the far west of the country.

Francis will tour Dublin on Saturday on his Popemobile before visiting a hostel for homeless families and giving a speech at Croke Park stadium.

The highlight of the visit will be an outdoor mass in the city’s Phoenix Park on Sunday, expected to draw 500,000 people — a tenth of the country’s entire population.

It is the first papal visit to Ireland since Pope John Paul II spoke to a crowd of 1.5 million people there in 1979.

The country has since undergone fundamental social change, becoming more secular — electing a gay prime minister and voting to legalise same-sex marriage and abortion.

The church has also been tarnished by clerical abuse scandals and victims and their supporters will hold a “Stand for Truth” demonstration in Dublin during the Sunday mass.

The Vatican confirmed Francis will meet with victims but provided no details, and said

It also said he was unlikely to announce specific measures to combat sexual abuse within the church following a devastating recent US report that accused more than 300 priests in the state of Pennsylvania of abusing more than 1,000 children since the 1950s.

In Tuam, a town in western Ireland, a silent vigil was planned in solidarity with victims of “mother and baby” homes — institutions accused of being punishment hostels for unwed pregnant women.

He will meet with President Michael D Higgins and Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar.

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Homesick Pilgrims Urge NAHCON to Hasten Their Return

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Thousands of Nigerian pilgrims, who performed this year’s Hajj in Saudi Arabia are now idle in the Holy Land, waiting anxiously for their return journey to Nigeria.

Pilgrims praying in Mecca
Pilgrims in Mecca
The pilgrims completed the rites on Aug. 20, the Arafat Day, after the symbolic throwing of pebbles at the Devil on three consecutive days.

The process also took them to observe the final rites involving the circumambulation of the Holy Ka’aba, the most sacred site in Islam in the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

They also undertook the mandatory Sa’ee (shuttling between Safaa and Marwa) seven times after going round the Ka’aba.

Alhaji Abubakar Imam, a pilgrim from Sokoto state, said: “our attention is now on home. We are pleased and thankful to Allah for allowing us a peaceful Hajj”.

He appealed to the Nigerian Hajj Commission to begin the home-bound journey to enable pilgrims reunite with their families.

Abdullahi Gwale from Kano State said the Hajj had been smooth and largely successful, adding that pilgrims were now nostalgic.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the leadership of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) began perfecting its preparations for the exercise on Friday when it held a general meeting with its Hajj staff in Makkah.

It was also attended by board members to strategise on achieving a hitch-free return.

The inaugural flight from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage took off on July 21 with 446 pilgrims from Kogi.

The flight was followed by transportation of over 300 from Nasarawa State on Max Air.

According to the schedule, the return journey has been slated to begin on Aug. 29.

But the commission’s Chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Mukhtar, while addressing Kogi pilgrims in Mina, near Makkah, said the return journey could start with any of the airlines.

He promised to consider transporting the same contingent back home in the first flight.

Those transporting Nigeria’s 55,000 pilgrims include Fly Nass, Medview and Max Air.

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Air Force Hits More Bandit Camps in Zamfara

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The Nigerian Air Force says the Air Task Force (ATF) for Operation DIRAN MIKIYA, has successfully executed air strikes that destroyed more bandit camps in Daji Bawar and Sunke Villages in Zamfara State.

Nigerian Air Force hits more bandit camps in Zamfara
Nigerian Air Force hits more bandit camps in Zamfara
Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, disclosed this in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.

The strikes were planned on the heels of intelligence reports indicating that some bandits who had survived the intensive air assaults on their various hideouts at Shinkafi, Galadi, Ajia, Shamashalle and other areas of Zamfara State had relocated to Anka Local Government Area (LGA) of the State.

Accordingly, the ATF embarked on intensive Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions to confirm the exact location of the new camps.

Eventually, the criminal elements were observed to have pitched their tents at Daji Bawar and Sunke Villages.

The ATF, therefore, launched coordinated air strikes on the camps in the two villages with a force package of 2 attack helicopters.

Overhead the target area, several bandits armed with automatic weapons were seen at both locations.

They were engaged leading to the destruction of the camps and their means of transport while scores of them were killed,” he said.

He said that the troops of Sector 3 Operation SHARAN DAJI later confirmed that over 30 bandits were killed while many others were injured.

Daramola said that the ATF would continue to dominate the area through armed reconnaissance and air interdiction missions to completely decimate the bandits to ensure a return to normalcy in Zamfara and other states in the Northwest.

The spokesman advised all persons involved in armed banditry in the area to renounce violence, surrender to security agencies and hand over their weapons.

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Election: Buhari Congratulates Keita, Mnangagwa

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday congratulated President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali and Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe on their victories in their respective country’s elections.

President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, issued the Buhari’s congratulatory message in Abuja on Friday.

Buhari hailed Malians for giving the incumbent another opportunity to serve them after the Aug. 12 presidential run-off even as Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court declared Mnangagwa the winner of the July presidential poll.

The ECOWAS Chairman urged Keita’s main challenger, Soumaila Cisse, and his supporters to abide by the verdict of the people as confirmed by the ruling of the constitutional court.

He enjoined Cisse to cooperate with Keita in the interest of the country in particular, and peace and stability of West Africa.

Buhari expressed his optimism that the successful outcome of the election in Mali would further strengthens Africa’s democratic credentials as the citizens exercised their franchise in choosing their leader without let or hindrance.

He wished Keita a successful second tenure in a peaceful and stable atmosphere and urged all Zimbabweans, especially politicians, to unite and work for the progress and development of their country.

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