US Blizzard: Residents Begin Clearing Up

New YorkAfter a weekend of heavy snowstorm that practically brought some parts of the United States to a standstill, millions of people across the eastern part of the country have begun clearing up the impact of the blizzard.

They have been digging out their cars and clearing pathways of snow which reached three feet in five states.

But it looks like workers may face some hardship this week, as public transport remains severely disrupted. Many flights had also been cancelled.

In Washington, government buildings and many schools would be closed on Monday.

At least 29 deaths had been reported since Friday, when the blizzard began, as a result of car accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning and heart attacks suffered while shovelling snow.

The BBC reported that in New York City – which saw its second-highest snowfall since records began in 1869 – a travel ban that effectively shut the city down had  been lifted.

However, officials urged residents to stay off the roads while they are cleared by snow ploughs.

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority had said that almost all public transport services will be running in time for the morning rush hour, including nearly 80% of the overground Long Island Rail Road.

New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, urged people to leave their cars covered with snow all week, but he tweeted that the city was now “bouncing back”.

US Snowstorm: New York Lifts Travel Ban

New YorkNew York lifted a travel ban and mass transit started getting back to normal on Sunday after a near-record blizzard in the U.S. Northeast.

Washington, however, remained at a standstill following storms that killed at least 19 people across the country.

Some 7,000 flights were cancelled during the weekend, with forecast that the disruption would continue during the week.

The storm was the second-biggest in New York City history, with 26.8 inches (68 cm) of snow in Central Park by midnight on Saturday, just shy of the record 26.9 inches (68 cm) set in 2006, the National Weather Service said.

Thirteen people were killed in weather-related car crashes in Arkansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia on Saturday. One person died in Maryland and three in New York while shoveling snow. Two died of hypothermia in Virginia, officials said.

The heaviest fall was recorded in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, which had at least 103cm of snow.

At least 85 million people have been affected by the storm, dubbed Snowmageddon and Snowzilla on social media, while more than 200,000 people are experiencing power outages.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday would be a major clean-up day. He urged residents to stay off streets so city crews could clear roads.

“We still have some areas that we have to do a lot more work on. But we’ve come through it pretty well,” he said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopolous.”

“The snow pile is going to be with us for a while, but I think we’ll be in good shape in the next 24 hours,” de Blasio said.

After the storm moved out into the Atlantic Ocean, much of the Northeast was expected to see a mix of sun and clouds on Sunday with temperatures just above freezing.

New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted a travel ban on New York City-area roads and on Long Island at 7 a.m. (1200 GMT) on Sunday. A state of emergency declared by Cuomo was still in place.

Most bus and subway services operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority were up and running again by 9 a.m. (1400 GMT), officials said, and the agency was working on restoring full service on Sunday.

The Metro-North rail line, which serves suburbs north and east of New York City, expected to have commuter train service running into and out of New York by 3 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Sunday. A spokeswoman for the New York Stock Exchange said the market planned to open as usual on Monday.

US Snowstorm: Massive US Blizzard Advances North

blizzardAbout 75 million people in the United States have been warned to stay at home as a massive blizzard bringing more than two feet of snow and fierce winds is advancing up the US east coast.

Reports said that the nation’s capital, Washington, could lie under a record 30 inches of snow by the time the storm passes on Sunday.

Eight people had been killed, six states had declared states of emergency, and thousands of flights had been cancelled.

The weather system is affecting a large part of the country, from Arkansas in the south to Massachusetts in the north-east.

Extremely Dangerous Storm

On Friday afternoon, as the first snow fell in Washington, the National Weather Service said it could be one of the worst storms in the city’s history.

The BBC reports that residents in the capital and surrounding suburbs in Virginia and Maryland have been warned the snowfall could eclipse the district’s record of 28in that fell during a two-day period in 1922.

As the weather system approached the country’s most populous city, New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, urged residents to be ready.

New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, a Republican presidential candidate, returned from the campaign trail in New Hampshire to take charge of snow preparation.

Catholics in Washington, Baltimore, and Delaware were told by archdiocese officials that missing Mass this Sunday was excusable given the terrible conditions.

National Weather Service Director, Louis Uccellini, said the system had “the potential of being an extremely dangerous storm that could affect over 50 million people”.

Iraq Demands Turkish Troops Withdraw From Near Mosul

Iraq Demands Turkish Troops Withdraw From Near MosulThe Iraqi government has asked Turkey to withdraw troops it sent to an area near the northern city of Mosul.

In a statement, Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s office said that the move is a “serious breach of Iraqi sovereignty”.

About 150 Turkish soldiers have been deployed near the town of Bashiqa to train Iraqi Kurdish forces.

Mosul has been under the control of the Islamic State (ISIS) group since last year.

But the statement called on Turkey to “respect good neighbourly relations and to withdraw immediately from the Iraqi territory”.

A Turkish security official said the troops had been in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq on a training mission since last year.

A senior Kurdish military officer based on the Bashiqa front-line, north of Mosul, said additional Turkish trainers had arrived at a camp in the area overnight on Thursday escorted by a Turkish protection force.

He said he was not aware of the size of the force and refused to speculate.

The camp is used by a force called Hashid Watani (national mobilisation), which is made up of mainly Sunni Arab former Iraqi police and volunteers from Mosul.

It was formed by former governor, Atheel al-Nujaifi, who is close to Turkey. There was already a small number of Turkish trainers there before this latest deployment.

“Our soldiers are already in Iraq. A battalion of soldiers has gone there. Training was already being given in that region for the last two to three years. This is a part of that training,” a senior Turkish official said.

In Washington, two US Defence Officials said on Friday that the United States was aware of Turkey’s deployment of hundreds of Turkish soldiers to northern Iraq, but the move was not part of the US-led coalition’s activities.

September 11 Anniversary: Americans Remember Lost Lives

Americans remember lost livesAmericans on September 11, remember the lives lost when terrorists hijacked passenger planes and rammed into New York City’s World Trade Center, in Washington.

14 years ago, terrorists killed 2,977 people in one of the deadliest attacks on American soil.

Tears flowed as the nation marks a dark day in sorrowful yet hopeful ceremonies.

On September 11, 2001, terrified strangers became friends as Americans united on a day that changed the world forever.

Today, like every other anniversary, a resilient nation looked forward to the future, but remembered the past.

In 14 years since the September 11  attack, the face of terrorism has changed out of recognition. To many experts, the threat of Islamist terror is in some ways greater and in some ways diminished. It is geographically more diverse and organisationally more divided, and leverages on social media and the internet since 2001.

In the West, Islamist terrorism is often more inspired than organised and directed. Its menace is also more fluid and unpredictable than it was on that bright autumn morning in 2001, but the tools to combat it are also more plentiful, from ever more sophisticated and accurate drones to financial intelligence and algorithms for chewing terabytes of data in the pursuit of suspicious communications.

The likelihood of an attack on the scale of September 11,  has receded. But the probability of more frequent though less devastating attacks have increased.

PDP, APC Trade Words Over Buhari’s U.S. Visit

PDP, APC Trade Words Over Buhari's U.S. VisitThe All Progressives Congress (APC) has condemned the statements by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday at a press conference in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Doing its own assessment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Washington in the United States, the PDP said that nothing beneficial to the country would follow the meeting.

The ruling APC said that the PDP cannot provide a virile opposition, describing its criticism as convoluted and hollow statements.

The APC claimed that there had been no government in Nigeria’s recent history that has been as focused and systematic as the one headed by President Buhari.

In a statement by the APC’s Publicity Secretary, Mr Lai Mohammed, the party said, ”President Buhari is working hard every day in the priority areas of tackling security and corruption, rebooting the economy to provide jobs for our teeming youths and generally to restore good governance. We are sorry for those who are too blind with hatred to see this.

“The PDP is terrified by the expose of how the Federal Government it led has looted the treasury and created an environment for impunity to thrive, as well as the fate that will befall those who were part of the show of shame and disgust.

“But we assure Nigerians that this government will not interfere with the work of the security and anti-corruption agencies, and also that under the Buhari administration, only the guilty needs to be afraid.”

The PDP, in its assessment, had opined that “the only achievements and change brought by the APC government are the curbing of the fundamental human rights of citizens; engaging in selective application of war against corruption, interfering in the activities of the National Assembly and eroding the independence of INEC”.

“The order of the day has become the crass victimization and harassment of officials of the immediate past administration.”

The ruling party has, however, advised the Peoples Democratic Party to be cautious in its role as the opposition.

”To be in opposition does not mean you have to constitute yourself to a nuisance by rushing to the press with all sorts of hot air statements. It is the quality, rather than the frequency, of your interventions that makes you relevant as an opposition in a democracy,” the APC said.

 

PDP Cannot Provide Virile Opposition With Convoluted, Hollow Statements – APC

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has said “the PDP as a party cannot provide any worthwhile opposition to the APC-led Federal Government if its spokesman continues to issue convoluted and fustian statements just so that he can be in the news.

“Today’s statement is the most tortuous yet by the PDP and, honestly, sounds more like a compendium of beer parlour gossips and side talks than a serious criticism of a sitting government,” the APC said in a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed.

“To be in opposition does not mean you have to constitute yourself to a nuisance by rushing to the press with all sorts of hot air statements. It is the quality, rather than the frequency, of your interventions that makes you relevant as an opposition in a democracy,” the party said

It said that in the light of the above, the APC would not dignify the latest in a series of confused statements by the PDP with any response.

”We can only say that we have been justified, and indeed prescient, in our earlier offer to organize a crash course for Olisa Metuh so that he can more effectively perform his role as the spokesman of the main opposition party.

”Those who thought we were joking with that offer can now see that indeed, Mr. Metuh is seriously in need of some form of coaching on his new role,” APC said.

“No government in Nigeria’s recent history has been as focused and systematic as the one headed by President Muhammadu Buhari in restoring good governance, especially coming after the worst stretch of governance, lasting all of 16 years, by the immoral and reckless PDP.

“It is worth noting that even the leader of the world’s foremost democracy, President Barack Obama, said that much during the recent visit to the U.S of President Buhari, when he described him (President Buhari) as a man of integrity with a clear agenda.

”President Buhari is working hard every day in the priority areas of tackling security and corruption, rebooting the economy to provide jobs for our teeming youths and generally to restore good governance. We are sorry for those who are too blind with hatred to see this.

”We know that the PDP is terrified by the expose of how the Federal Government it led has looted the treasury and created an environment for impunity to thrive, as well as the fate that will befall those who were part of the show of shame and disgust.

”But we assure Nigerians that this government will not interfere with the work of the security and anti-corruption agencies, and also that under the Buhari Administration, only the guilty needs to be afraid.

”In the meantime, no amount of mumbo jumbo from the PDP will stop the Buhari Administration from its tough but inevitable task of restoring Nigeria’s lost glory,” APC said.

Read PDP’s statement here.

Full Text: APC Government: So Far, No Direction – PDP

‘APC Government: So Far, No Direction’ – PDP

Gentlemen of the press, we have once again called you up to address a number of very important issues constituting a threat to our democracy, the general health of our nation and our welfare as citizens under the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.

Last Thursday, our dear President, President Muhammadu Buhari returned from his much-publicised visit to the United States of America. A visit which has proven to be anything but successful, yet another miscarried cosmetic intervention to hide government’s inefficiency and inability to face the real business of governance.

As a responsible political party, committed to peace and the stability of our dear nation, the PDP restrained itself from embarrassing the President by not raising, while he was in the States, issues of harassment of citizens, interferences in the activities of the National Assembly and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), total disregard for tenets of democracy, resort to sole administratorship as well as other violations which have become the order of the day in Nigeria since the inauguration of his administration.

Rather, we remained calm, while hoping and praying that the visit would afford our President and his party leaders reasonable tutorials on the respect and application of the tenets of democracy and fundamental rights of citizens under the rule of law.

This is in addition to the fact that as patriotic citizens, we looked forward for gains especially given our restated support for any action or policy by the Federal Government aimed at stamping out corruption, ending insurgency and promoting economic growth, which formed parts of the publicised agenda for the visit.

However, now that the visit has come and gone, our fear is that nothing whatsoever has been learnt or gained. What we continue to receive as a nation have been embarrassing disagreements, accusations and counter accusations, blames and denials on very important issues due to lack of tact and skill in the management of state matters by the APC-led administration.

It is disheartening that rather than secure any sort of tangible gain for the fight against terrorism, which has lost steam under the APC watch, with insurgents, who were pushed to the verge of surrender by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, now surging back and spreading into the country, we get nothing but exchanges and disagreements between the Presidency and their American hosts. This is not only embarrassing but also worrisome indication of crass ineptitude in the handling of international affairs on the part of the present administration.

We urge the APC-led administration to settle down, put its acts together and get determined, without further excuse, to face the fight against insurgency with every sense of seriousness especially given President Buhari’s promise in his April 2, 2015 CNN interview to end the scourge two months after his inauguration, which is by the end of this month.

Also, while Nigerians awaited for reassuring words to promote our democracy and unity as a nation, they were shocked as they watched President Buhari unfold to the world his decision to administer the country on the basis of the voting pattern in the last general elections rather than on equity as stipulated by the constitution and his oaths of office as the President of Nigeria.

President Buhari told a stunned audience in the US that “constituencies that gave me 97 percent cannot in all honesty be treated, on some issues, with constituencies that gave me 5 percent”, signifying that his government will be discriminatory.

Never in the history of our nation has a president made such a divisive and vindictive declaration. Never in the history of Nigeria has a President made such tendentious, biased and partisan statement, a blade on the chord of unity of his own country and people.

President Buhari as a respected leader and the father of the nation whose “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody’ inaugural speech brought great hope to Nigerians, must therefore note the enormous damage and danger his recent partisan declaration brings to the polity.

We demand that the President come clear on this matter. Would this form the basis of government appointments rather than adherence to merit and the principle of federal character as enshrined in the constitution? Would this be a basis for termination of appointments, promotions and key policies in the service circle?

Would it form the basis for distribution of infrastructural development projects and other essential interventions rather than the principle of equity and equality of federating units as stipulated by the constitution? Is this a deliberate policy by the APC or his personal stance? Are we expecting the same discriminatory policy from APC state governors?

May we remind President Buhari that his declaration to run a discriminatory government is in clear violation of his oath of office as President wherein he publicly swore “that in all circumstances, I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will; …”

Our fear however is that the President’s stance has further divided the people along sectional and religious lines and may trigger a return of quest for ethnic and sectional self-determination. The burden therefore lies squarely on him to moderate the political ambiance in the nation and do the needful in reassuring all sections of the nation of his commitment to be fair and just, in keeping with the oaths and demands of the highly respected office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Similarly, the business community in Nigeria and indeed across the world noted with utter dismay the disgraceful treatment meted out on some Nigerian bankers and captains of industries by President Buhari during his US visit.

Whereas the President has the right to decide who makes his entourage on such an important official visit, which visibly excluded National Assembly leaders, economic experts and had no woman, the manner with which he shamed and walked out Nigerians businessmen sends very wrong signal to international investors and poses great threats to inflow of direct foreign investment into our country. These Nigerian businessmen were rejected by their President only for them to be valued by other Presidents of African nations who led them into a meeting with President Barrack Obama in their own countries on account of their investments in those nations.

Whilst we reserve our comments on the numerous blunders and gaffes in the presentation of ideas, we note the embarrassment caused by the absence of an economic team for healthy and informed discussion at the meeting with officials of the US government.

Whereas President Obama came to the meeting with a formidable team of experts and key federal officials, our President had three APC governors with questionable performance and who owe salaries and billion of naira in debts, thereby robbing our nation the benefits and gains of the discussions.

Furthermore, since the President has insisted on running his government as a sole administrator, making important decisions on national affairs without recourse to relevant statutory arms and organs of government, we are compelled to demand that this administration come out clear on its expenses since assumption of office in May in keeping with its much harped stance on transparency.

We make this demand because since the APC took office, the nation’s financial system in the absence of statutory functionaries has been enmeshed in confusion, controversy and fertile atmosphere for financial sleazes.

Recall that when it assumed office, this administration raised the issue of empty treasury only for the nation to learn few days later from the Accountant General of the Federation that about $2.1 billion was left in the Excess Crude Account (ECA). When the PDP demanded credit for the ECA savings, the nation was suddenly made aware of huge sums from the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas dividends from which the APC-led Federal Government announced financial bailout for states.

It is interesting to note that whereas the Presidency has gone ahead to unilaterally deplete the funds without recourse to appropriate statutory arms of government, state governors are on air announcing that they have not received any form of bailout whatsoever from the center, raising serious questions on the handling of national resources.

This is more so as we have information that the Presidency acting alone, has gone into discussions with the World Bank for a loan of $2.1 billion for purposes unknown to Nigerians. What is the loan for? What are the terms and who are those working the papers? Who are the people to decide on how the money will be spent? Is it true that the $2.1 billion loan is meant to pay back huge contributions for the APC Presidential campaign expenses? If truly this government is transparent, it should come out clear on this loan as well as publicize details of its expenditure in the last two months.

We are worried that the ineptitude, avoidable inactivity, lack of policy direction and absence of ministers to coordinate government affairs have left the nation’s economy sour with continued slide in the naira which has fallen from under N200 to the dollar in May to an all time low of N240, in addition to the excruciating loss in the capital market which has lost over N1.1 trillion in the last two months.

With the recent display of insensitivity in deciding that ministers would be appointed in September, a reneging on the earlier promise to unfold a cabinet two weeks after inauguration, Nigerians should brace up for more economic loses ahead, a development which spells doom for the gains earlier achieved by the PDP administration in growing our economy to the biggest in Africa and one of the fastest growing in the world.

Indeed, Nigerians are no longer in doubt that they have been scammed with long list of empty promises. This government has failed to articulate any policy direction in any sector. What we see is a smart attempt at cosmetic governance, loud propaganda and artful move to appropriate the achievements made by the PDP-led administration; such as the effort in ending polio, the improvement in power supply which is a dividend from numerous investments by the previous administrations, the return of the railways among others.

The only achievements and change brought by the APC government are the curbing of the fundamental human rights of citizens; engaging in selective application of war against corruption, interfering in the activities of the National Assembly and eroding the independence of INEC. The order of the day has become the crass victimization and harassment of officials of the immediate past administration.

The recent organized public humiliation of the immediate-past First Lady and wife of the former President, Dame Patience Jonathan at the Port Harcourt airport where she was refused access to the protocol longue based on ‘order from Abuja’ is a particular case in point. We stress this case because when the immediate past President was in power, all former Presidents and their spouses had unhindered access to the protocol longue.

While we note that this development has been widely condemned by Nigerians, we ask if the former President erred in conceding defeat. Is the Federal Government by any means encouraging a sit-tight attitude by government officials?

Moreover, we have been watching with keen interest the unfolding scenario in INEC where the Presidency has been making every effort to rewrite the constitution and the law with the singular aim to perpetuate Mrs. Amina Zakari as Chairman in spite of her relationship and closeness to key APC leaders. We are also aware of the position of the law and that Mrs. Zakari’s tenure as a member of the commission elapsed on July 21, 2015.

We restate that as long as Mrs. Zakari remains in the commission, it should not be considered as independent and we will not accept any attempt to manipulate the results of the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa, which are known PDP strongholds.

Finally, we state in clear terms that for the APC, it is a matter of so far, bad change. So far, bad change that the government has failed to articulate any clear policy direction with attendant avoidable confusion and economic downturn; so far, bad change that our dear nation is gradually sliding into a banana republic were the fundamental rights of the citizens are being trampled upon and where security agencies have become compromised instruments of oppression in the hands of the ruling party.

So far, bad change that INEC has now lost its independence and the respect it commanded among electoral stakeholders for fact of nepotism in appointment of its Chairman; so far, bad change that the National Assembly, the very citadel of our democracy has fallen under siege by a government which seeks to appropriate its leadership and erode its constitutional independence.

So far, bad change that the government has reneged on many of its promises to the people and now seeks to hoodwink them with lies, propaganda and governance orchestrations. So far, bad change that the people now have to live with the reality that the government had no intention of providing monthly N5, 000 stipend, allowances to the discharged but unemployed Youth Corps members, free meals for school children, 100 million jobs, additional 4 million new homes, and bringing the naira to the same value with the dollar among other promises for which they were voted for.

As a responsible political party that has sustained democracy in the last 16 years, we are in good position to understand the growing frustration and agitation among the people. However, we appreciate the sense of calm by the citizens especially bearing in mind that this confusion called the APC will end in the next four years.

Signed:

Chief Olisa Metuh
National Publicity Secretary

 

APC Reacts: PDP Cannot Provide Virile Opposition With Convoluted, Hollow Statements

 

World Bank Appoints Oteh As Vice President And Treasurer

otehThe World Bank has announced the appointment of the immediate past Director-General of Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mrs Arunma Oteh as a Vice President and Treasurer.

According to a statement released by the bank in Washington, Mrs Oteh in her new role as Vice President and Treasurer would manage and lead the diverse team responsible for managing more than 150 billion dollars in assets worldwide through engagements with public and private sector institutions.

The statement said she was selected to the position ”through an international competitive search” and would be assuming office effective September 28, 2015

Read the full statement by the World Bank below:

Arunma Oteh, Vice President and Treasurer of the World Bank Date: July 23, 2015.

Mrs Oteh, a Nigerian national, was most recently the Director General (DG) of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Nigeria. She was Appointed to a five-year term by the President of Nigeria in 2010, she led the transformation of the country’s Capital Markets Industry into a major global presence.

The former DG of Nigeria’s SEC was a member of the Board of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and the Chairperson of the Africa Middle East Regional Committee of IOSCO.

Prior to joining the SEC of Nigeria, Mrs Oteh was Group Vice President, Corporate Services, at the African Development Bank Group (AfDB). In this role, she oversaw a number of departments, including human resources, information and communications technology, and institutional procurement.

From 2001 to 2006 she held the role of AfDB Group Treasurer, where she led AfDB’s fundraising and capital market activities across the world. Earlier roles at the AfDB, which she joined in 1992, included trading room management, investment portfolio coverage, and public sector lending.

Mrs Oteh also held other positions in capital markets and lending during the course of her career at the AfDB.

She began her career in 1985 at Centre Point, where she executed debt and equity offerings in the Nigerian Capital Markets.

The Former DG of Nigeria’s SEC earned her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Nigeria and her Masters of Business Administration from Harvard University.

As VP and Treasurer, Mrs Oteh would manage and lead a large and diverse team responsible for managing more than $150 billion in assets.

Her top priorities would be to:

Maintain the World Bank’s global reputation as a prudent and innovative borrower, investor and risk manager.

Manage an extensive client advisory, transaction and asset management business for the Bank.

Engage in her capacity as one of the World Bank’s key representatives, with outside stakeholders including Global Private Sector Financial Institutions, the financial media, sovereign debt and reserve managers in client countries, as well as ratings agencies.

Collaborate extensively with the Finance Partners throughout the WBG, including with IFC and MIGA, expanding shared approaches, in particular around innovative financing for development and for key new projects.

Mrs Oteh was selected to the position through an International Competitive Search. Her appointment is effective on September 28, 2015.

US, Cuba Formally Restore Diplomatic Relations

cuba, US, restoring diplomatic relationsThe United States and Cuba have quietly ushered in a new era of post-Cold War relations, formally restoring diplomatic relations after an agreement struck last year putting aside decades of hostility.

The diplomatic missions of each country became full embassies on Monday, after midnight local time.

Cuba Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, would preside around 10:30 a.m. over the raising of the Cuban flag for the first time in 54 years over a mansion that would serve as Havana’s embassy in Washington.

The hugely symbolic event would be followed by a meeting at the State Department between Secretary of State, John Kerry and Rodriguez, the first Cuban foreign minister on an official visit to Washington since the 1959 Cuban Revolution.

While the Cubans hold their ceremony, the U.S. Embassy in Havana would also reopen.

But no American flag would fly there until a visit by Kerry, expected next month.

“We wanted the secretary to be there to oversee these important events,” a State Department official said.

Starting Monday, the Cuban government would pull back some of the tight cordon of security that had surrounded America’s diplomatic mission in Havana and no longer record the names of Cubans entering the building, U.S. officials said.

The heads of the respective Interest Sections in Cuban and American would become charges d’affaires until ambassadors are named.

More than 500 people would attend the Cubans’ festivities in Washington, including members of Congress. No invitations went out to hardline anti-Castro lawmakers. The U.S. delegation would be headed by Assistant Secretary of State, Roberta Jacobson.

Kerry and Rodriguez last met in April at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, where Obama and Castro also held talks. Aides see the outreach to Cuba as a boost to Obama’s legacy.

The re-establishment of embassies, agreed to on July 1, opened a new chapter of engagement by easing government contacts heavily constrained since the United States broke off relations in 1961.

The normalisation process had been slowed by lingering disputes, including over human rights as well as Havana’s desire to keep a tight rein on its society and state-run economy.

 

Buhari Meets With Entourage Ahead Of Talks With Obama

Muhammadu-Buhari-at-meeting-with-Nigerian-officialsPresident Muhammadu Buhari has held a meeting with officials of the Nigerian government to perfect plans towards the meeting with the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama slated for Monday.

The meeting started few hours after President Buhari arrived in Washington DC and was received at the airport by some Nigeria and U.S. officials.

Talks between both leaders will centre on how to tackle terrorism and insecurity in Nigeria’s north-east among other issues.

Muhammadu-Buhari-Visits-Obama
Officials of the American government and welcome President Muhammadu Buhari on Arrival in the U.S.

The meeting between President Buhari and government officials was held at the Blair House overlooking the White House, where the Nigerian President would he hosted all through his four-day visit.

Also at the meeting was the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Professor Ade Adefuyi, who told reporters that the meeting would further strengthen ties between the two nations.

Many political watchers are optimistic that by the end of the visit, concrete steps would be taken to actualise laudable objectives that bind the two countries.