Canada Pledges $26.9m, Vows To Welcome 4,000 More Refugees From The Americas

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged another $26.9 million to migration and protection-related projects in the Americas and Canada’s willingness to accept an additional 4,000 refugees from those two continents by 2028 at the 9th Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.

“Canada values its deep and longstanding partnerships with countries across the Americas, which are crucial to improving peoples’ lives by driving economic growth that benefits everyone, advancing gender equality, and fighting climate change,” said Trudeau. 

“At this productive Summit of the Americas, we recommitted to continue working together to build a better future for people across the hemisphere.”

Tackling Irregular Migration

At the summit, Canada also pledged support for Venezuelan refugees and funding to combat human trafficking. 

Trudeau also announced further measures Canada is taking to address the irregular migration crisis, including endorsing the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, advancing promotion and recruitment efforts related to Canada’s francophone immigration program, and welcoming more than 50,000 agricultural workers from Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean this year.

In the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, Canada joined 19 other countries, including the United States, in recognizing the positive contributions of refugees and migrants to the socio-economic development of their host communities.  

“We applaud the sustained efforts of States in our hemisphere in hosting refugees, providing regular migration pathways, promoting local economic and social integration, facilitating voluntary return, and supporting the reintegration of returnees,” states the countries’ joint declaration. 

The countries that inked that declaration are:

  • Argentina;
  • Barbados; 
  • Belize; 
  • Brazil; 
  • Canada; 
  • Chile; 
  • Colombia; 
  • Costa Rica; 
  • Ecuador; 
  • El Salvador; 
  • Guatemala; 
  • Haiti; 
  • Honduras; 
  • Jamaica; 
  • Mexico; 
  • Panama; 
  • Paraguay; 
  • Peru; 
  • United States, and;
  • Uruguay.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) figures show that 19,810 refugees became new permanent residents of Canada last year.

The Number Of Refugees Gaining Permanent Residency Is Skyrocketing In Canada

By the end of April this year, another 11,590 refugees had become new permanent residents of Canada, putting the country on track to welcome a total of 34,770 refugees this year should the current trend continue. 

The surge in the number of refugees coming to Canada is being fueled, in part, by the unlimited number of Ukrainians Ottawa has pledged to welcome under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program.

It was established on March 17 to help Ukrainians forced to flee after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 and provides them and their immediate family members with temporary residency in Canada for up to three years.

Under CUAET, these refugees are eligible for free open work permits and study permits and so can take a job with almost any Canadian employer or enrol in any educational program in Canada.

They are also eligible for a one-time payout under the Canada-Ukraine Transitional Assistance Initiative (CUTAI) of $3,000 per adult and $1,500 per child as well as settlement services, including language training, information about life in Canada, and help in finding jobs.

Parents and guardians can access this financial support by submitting one application for themselves, a spouse, and dependants. Payments will be made through direct deposit, so applicants will need to have a bank account with a Canadian financial institution under the same name as the name of the adult’s temporary resident status document, that is, their work permit, study permit, temporary resident permit or visitor record.

Once in Canada, Ukrainian refugees can apply for permanent residency and any work experience they gain or studying they do while in the country will only enhance their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores should they decide to complete Express Entry profiles and apply for permanent residency. 

Canada Agrees To Help Set Up New Financial Supports For Countries Hosting Migrant Populations

By inking the joint declaration at the Summit of the Americas, Canada agrees to work with the other nations to:

  • convene multilateral development banks, international financial institutions, and traditional donors to establish new financial support instruments for countries hosting migrant populations;
  • improve regional cooperation mechanisms for law enforcement information sharing, protection-sensitive border management, visa regimes, and regularization processes;
  • strengthen temporary labour migration pathways, as feasible, that benefits countries across the region, including through new programs promoting connections between employers and workers, robust safeguards for ethical recruitment, and legal protections for workers’ rights, and;
  • improve access to public and private services for migrants and refugees to promote their social and economic inclusion in host communities.

After hitting a record-breaking level of immigration, with 405,970 new permanent residents to the country last year, Canada announced it would welcome 431,645 new permanent residents this year, 447,055 next year, and 451,000 in 2024.

Canada’s openness to refugees has made it a darling of the United Nations Refugee Agency.

“Most refugees came to Canada with few, if any, financial resources, and often had to learn a new language and adapt to a new culture,” the United Nations agency has noted.

“Despite these challenges, the results show that refugees do not simply benefit from the safety Canada gives them. In fact, they embrace the opportunity that Canada provides to build a better life and become important contributors to the country’s economy and cultural diversity.”

New Canadian immigration program in the works

Canada is creating a new immigration program for temporary residents, and changes to Express Entry are on the way.

Canada is working on a new fast-track immigration program for temporary foreign workers and international students.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser told CBC News the new program will be a permanent pathway for temporary residents. It will be similar but not identical to the Temporary Residence to Permanent Residence (TR2PR) program which opened the door to 90,000 essential workers and international student graduates last year.

“We are looking right now at the best path forward to create a permanent pathway for temporary residents,” Fraser said to CBC News.

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

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Shortly after being appointed immigration minister, Fraser was mandated to “expand pathways to Permanent Residence for international students and temporary foreign workers.” Now, Fraser has 120 days to develop and release a strategy to achieve these goals, as dictated by a motion passed in the Canadian House of Commons.

“That actually puts me on a clock to come up with a framework to establish this new permanent residency pathway, not just for international students, but also for temporary foreign workers,” Fraser said.

Further details of the new program will be available by September 8 when Fraser’s 120 deadline is up.

Express Entry changes

Canada will once again invite Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates to apply for permanent residence this July, but that’s not the only change coming.

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Bill C-19 is now passing through the Senate and is on track to become law. It will give Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) the authority to invite Express Entry candidates in the pool based on an economic goal, such as occupation, French-language ability, or education credential.

IRCC will be required to engage in a public consultation process to help them select which groups of Express Entry candidates will be invited in these types of draws. Further, IRCC must report annually to Parliament describing the economic goal that was sought in each instance.

How to come to Canada as a temporary resident

Although it is not always necessary to be in Canada to be eligible for an immigration program, studies have shown that immigrants with Canadian experience tend to have higher wages and more instances of employment in the initial years after landing than those who immigrated directly.

Canadian study and work experience can also open the doors to many more immigration programs.

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In order to study in Canada, you need to get accepted to a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) and obtain a study permit. If you graduate from a full-time program of at least eight months, you may be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), which many people use to gain Canadian work experience.

work permit is usually required to work in Canada. There are more than 100 work permit options divided into two broad categories: Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) work permits and International Mobility Program (IMP) work permits. The major difference is that TFWP work permits require the employers to complete a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), whereas IMP work permits exist to support Canada’s economic, social, and cultural priorities. IMP work permits are LMIA-exempt, because the work performed by these work permit holders has been shown to be of significant benefit to Canada, or is the result of a reciprocal agreement with another country.

How to immigrate through Express Entry

Express Entry is an application management system for three Canadian immigration programs including the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Canadian Experience Class, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program. Meaning, in order to get into the Express Entry pool of candidates, you need to be eligible for at least one of these programs.

Once you are in the pool, you get a score based on IRCC’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The CRS takes into account your work experience in a skilled occupation, study experience, official language ability, age, and other economic factors. The more CRS points you have, the higher the chances you will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence.

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Express Entry candidates in the pool may also be invited to apply for a provincial nomination though a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). If you respond to the invitation and get nominated, you will be awarded an additional 600 CRS points. This bonus will effectively guarantee that you will receive an ITA in a subsequent Express Entry draw.

The ITA is the key to applying for Canadian immigration through Express Entry. Once IRCC receives your response to the ITA, their processing standard to respond is six months. The pandemic has slowed down actual processing times however. The current wait times are available on the IRCC web page.

Lagos ports collapsing, cargo diversion to West African countries imminent

There are indications that the nation may soon start experiencing more cargo diversions to neighbouring West African ports as well as increase in freight rates due to the collapse of both Tin Can and Apapa quay aprons.

A quay is part of the port where cargo is lifted or vessels are loaded and unloaded.

In separate chats with our correspondent in Lagos, experts said that shipping companies would now be scared to berth at the affected ports, resulting in the diversion of cargoes to West African ports or a possible increase in freight charges.

A member of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, Adewale Ishola, said that the present condition of the quay aprons portrayed danger for incoming vessels.

“The quay aprons portray danger to incoming ships. They expose ships coming in to danger, so it means if you are not careful, people will say that our ports are not safe. If our quay aprons are not strong enough to take vessels, it means vessels will reject going to Tin Can port.

“Maybe they will now go to other ports and drop our cargoes.  And Apapa port is not even safer because it is older. Apapa was becoming filled up as at then; Tin Can was now built to take some cargoes off Apapa. Tin Can was built out of necessity. That means if ships start to reject coming to these ports because of the collapsing quay aprons, there may be additional premium for them to enter our ports because they know they are taking a risk to come there. So, the cost of delivering cargo might become higher if they have to bring their vessels to come and deliver cargoes at a collapsing quay side,” he said.

Also speaking, an oil and gas analyst, Zaka Bala, said that the collapsing of the quay aprons of the ports spelt doom for Nigerian economy, noting that vessels would start moving away from Nigeria.

“This portends doom for Nigerian economy. It portends doom for Nigerian economy because a lot of vessels will start moving away from Nigeria. And that will make other countries that are on the coastal waters of Atlantic Ocean to start developing their ports. Once they start developing their ports, all the big ships will start diverting to their ports and once that happens, most of the ships that are supposed to bring goods to Nigeria will start berthing in other countries.  Before you know it, other countries will take over the position of Nigeria. And once that happens, it means even if we import goods, they will stop in other countries and we will be forced to go to other countries within Africa to bring in our goods. It will spell economic doom for Nigeria,” he concluded.

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Muhammad Bello-Koko, had, over the weekend, raised the alarm that Tin Can Island port was collapsing, saying that more attention should be focused more on rehabilitating the quay walls of the port.

5 Facts You Need to Know About Canada’s Education System

As the most educated country in the world, Canada is also rated as the place that offers the best quality of life to its residents. It has a balanced approach to work and living, and with top-quality education, excellent prospects too.  

Education is what molds the future. It sculpts people into the leaders of tomorrow. If you are a parent, one of your top priorities is probably to send your children to one of the best schools in the world, including primary, secondary, and then, finally, tertiary.  

The Canada Express Entry System consists of countless immigration programs that can promise a brighter future for both you and your family, but first, let’s learn more about the Canadian Education system. 

5 Facts About the Canadian Education System

  1. Canada offers free education, for the most part.

Education is free for all students in the public education system. This is very beneficial to many people traveling from countries where education is generally expensive, such as the US and Australia. Even though public schools are free in Canada, the quality of education is uncompromised because, with high-quality education, each province also has quality teachers.

  1. Canada has public and private schools.

The biggest difference between private and public schools in Canada is that public schools are governmentally funded, while private schools cost between 4,000 CAD to 26,000 CAD in tuition fees per year. While public schools lend textbooks to students, private schools sell them. Private schools are also selective with their students, where public schools accept everybody.

  1. The Canadian government prioritizes education.

The Canadian government spends 6% of its GDP on education, which is much more than most governments in the world. This means that the government is set on investing in the future of the country and understands the significant role that education plays in the construction of a better and brighter future for all people that live in Canada and those who plan to immigrate to it.

  1. Canada is home to some of the top-ranked educational institutions globally.

Not less than 30 Canadian universities rank among the top in the entire world, which also sheds light on how good the primary and secondary education systems in Canada are. Canada has also been ranked as one of the top 5 countries that offers the best higher education in the world.

  1. Canada is a world leader in language education.

The Great White North is known for being a world leader in language training. Canada has two official languages, which are English and French. In Canada, all students are required to learn both English and French and become proficient enough to communicate in either. Students are also welcome and encouraged to learn more languages, with Spanish being the most popular additional choice. Up to 21% of people that live in Canada speak a foreign language as their mother tongue. 40% of this group speaks European languages as their mother tongue, and 56% speak Asian languages. For more information about Canada’s education system and how to apply for a Canadian study permit through the Student Direct Stream (SDS), visit this page.

If you wish to immigrate to this incredible country and benefit from its amazing education system, you can with the Canada Express Entry System. The program is highly beneficial for anyone who wants to move to Canada to apply to study in the country, as it can gain you CRS (Comprehensive Ranking System) points. As getting an education in Canada could increase your score, your chances of gaining permanent residency also increase. Whether it’s you who study at a Canadian university or your children receiving an education, it can benefit your entire household family to gain permanent residency in Canada.

What is the Express Entry System?

Introduced by the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Canadian Express Entry System is a fast-tracked process designed to select the best candidates for Canadian immigration, all to aid in the country’s economic growth. It is a simple immigration initiative that consists of many Federal economic immigration programs, all of which suit specific criteria.

To apply, you can submit your visa application through one of the following programs: 

  • Federal Skilled Worker Class
  • Federal Skilled Trades Class
  • Canadian Experience Class

Express Entry applications include seven easy-to-follow steps: 

  1. Check if you meet the minimum requirements
  2. Create an Express Entry profile
  3. Receive your CRS score
  4. Get and accept an Invitation to Apply (ITA)
  5. Submit your supporting documents
  6. Pay your immigration fees
  7. Submit your application for Permanent Residence (PR)

It doesn’t matter where you live in the world. If you wonder how to get to a country that offers the best education system, look no further than applying through the Canada Express Entry system. As the best immigration program in Canada, it can help you move abroad in as little as 6 to 8 months. All you have to do is meet a list of requirements set out by the Canadian government.   

To learn more about Canada’s Express Entry system and other immigration programs you can apply to, visit CanadianVisa.org.     

Cash-strapped banks borrow N338.4bn from CBN in one month

Cash-strapped banks borrowed N338.5bn from the Central Bank of Nigeria in January to bridge their funding gap, according to the banking data.

Figures from the CBN’s monthly report for January on ‘Standing facilities window operation’ showed that the banks continued to utilise the Standing Lending Facility and Deposit Lending Facility in the sector.

It stated that, “Activities at the standing facility window during the period reflected improved banking system liquidity.

“Total Standing Lending Facility contracted considerably by 52.4 per cent to N338.4bn from N711.54bn in December 2021, fallout of the improved banking system liquidity in the period.

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“In addition, the activity at the inter-bank call segment contributed to the significant decline in SLF.

“Transactions at the Standing Deposit Facility increased by 7.0 per cent to N246.21bn from N230.22bn in the preceding month, further buttressing liquidity condition in the market.”

The Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr Osita Nwanisobi, did not pick calls or respond to text messages seeking comments.

Bank officials declined comments on the development.

However, industry expert and the Managing Director, Lancelot Ventures Limited, Adebayo Adeleke, said the public cannot go and deposit money or withdraw money from the CBN.

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He said, “The CBN is the bank of last resort, it is the only one authorised to print naira. The only bank that should not run dry is CBN. They also control the banks by ensuring that the banks maintain some levels of deposits with CBN.

“The CBN technically speaking is bankers’ bank.  All the banks bank with CBN, they deposit money and also bank with the CBN and that is why the CBN is able to control the influx of the naira into the economy, regulate the interest rates, increasing Monetary Policy Rate and others.

“So they set the temple for the control of money. The CBN is the bankers’ bank, the bank of the last resort and the bank of the Federal Government.”

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr Johnson Chukwu, said, “The banks borrow from the CBN to meet their funding gap. The SDR and SLR also move regularly. But remember that the banks also keep money in the Central Bank.”

A former President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, Dr Sam Nzekwe, said, “The banks have to take from the CBN because it is the bank of the last resort. CBN is also keeping part of their money which they cannot lend.“They borrow money from the CBN when they don’t have where to borrow money from and they are short of cash. They borrow from the CBN and pay back.”

Sultan decries killing of woman, four children in Anambra

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar lll, has decried the killing of Harira Jibrin, and her four children at Isulo in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State by unknown gunmen.

The Sultan who leads the Jama’atul Nasril Islam, condemned the dastardly act, describing the killing as senseless and barbaric.

He also urged the Federal Government to spare no efforts in smoking out the unknown gunmen from the hideouts with immediate effects.

The Sultan, who is the spiritual leader of Nigerian Muslims, also condemned the recurring heartless and calamitous unprovoked killings and maiming across the country as result of insecurity.

The JNI statement read in part,
“At the instance of its President-General, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji(Dr.) Muhammad Sa’adu Abubakar, CFR, mni, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam condemns the senseless, barbaric and unprovoked killing of one Harira Jibrin; a pregnant woman with four of her children at Isulo in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State.

“The incident is just but an addition to the series of many other killings meted, particularly to Muslims in the South-Eastern States of Nigeria.

“The recurring heartless and calamitous unprovoked killings and maiming over there, as well as across other parts of the country are, to say the least condemnable.

UK visa: ASUU members, others react to exclusion of Nigerian universities

Following the exclusion of Nigerian graduates from a new United Kingdom visa- High Potential Individual Visa, reactions have trailed the development, with many linking the cause to the persistent school closures, especially the strike actions of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.

The PUNCH had reported on Friday that a  new UK visa excluded Nigerian university graduates from applying for the jobs based on the requirement that graduates applying must be from any of the universities in the top 50 global rankings.

The PUNCH gathered reactions from some stakeholders in Nigerian universities.

The Chairman of ASUU, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife branch, Dr. Adeola Egbedokun, noted that Nigerian degrees were not inferior to those of counterparts abroad, adding that lecturers in Nigeria were equally qualified to teach outside the country.

However, he said, “Nevertheless, the difference is in the process and facilities with which teaching and learning are done and this is the matter ASUU has been pursuing for decades. Because facilities are not readily available in our universities, infrastructures are not maintained among many other challenges, whereas the ranking of universities is dependent on such criteria and many others.

“The incessant strikes, foisted on ASUU by the government, have always resulted in unstable calendars, calling to question the duration of degree programmes in Nigeria.”

“If the government had not been paying lip service to the demands of ASUU over the years, we would not have experienced the rots we have in the universities and such UK authorities wouldn’t have exempted our graduates,” Egbedokun told The PUNCH.

He urged that the Nigerian government should urgently listen to the demands of ASUU, adding that the “deafness of Nigerian government is really hampering the chances of our graduates abroad. ”

  • It is an interplay between mischief and reality- UNILAG don

A Research Associate Professor of Governance and Politics at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Kayode Eesuola, in his reaction, said, “the UK has the statistics of Nigerian universities’ graduates that drive the country’s economy in professions ranging from Medicine to Engineering and IT. The statistics will hardly support or warrant such discrimination. That’s the mischief part.

“The reality part is that one cannot deny that Nigerian universities are underfunded and underequipped in material and human resources, consequences of which are the incessant ASUU strikes the country currently faces. Apparently, the students become the victims as they lack concentration and state-of-the-art training in comparison to their peers elsewhere. Their finishing qualities will be affected,” Eesuola said.

Speaking further, he noted that it wasn’t given that the training grounds determined the quality of graduates, adding that the United States had “some of the best football and athletics training institutions and equipment in the world, but the best marathoners and footballers come from other countries.” He added that this was evident in the Nigerians that were doing well in their careers abroad.

He concluded that the Nigerian government should “understand and appreciate the wider implications of ASUU’s struggle for the revitalisation of education in Nigeria, for only that will improve the rating (not necessarily quality) of our graduates globally.”

  • Lecturers sponsor researches with their salaries – OAU don

A lecturer who deals with Hydrology and Geographic Information System at the Department of Geography in OAU, Dr. Bayo Eludoyin, on his part, noted that lecturers now sponsored researches with their salaries while students lacked grants for their researches too.

“I do not find the decision to be a surprising one. We definitely are not in the first 50. I am not sure that any university in Nigeria is in the top 800 or 1000, depending on whose ranking we use.”

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Speaking further, he said, “Nigerian public university system has a long way to go before they can rank even in 500th position. Forget the so-called ABUAD or Covenant University’s ranking but ask about the basis for the ranking. Is it on students’ satisfaction, research output, or specific programmes? The basis differs and the ranking is specific. Nonetheless, I think there are lots of things that are wrong with the administration of teaching and learning in Nigerian public universities, and many private universities may do better in some of these areas, including some selective facilities and lecturer-student relationships.

Dr. Eludoyin urged for autonomy in public universities to allow competitiveness, adding that most successful universities abroad were autonomous.

A Masters graduate of OAU, Ogumah Andrew Segun, said that the quality of teaching in public universities should not make anyone argue over the criteria of the UK.

“I do think that we can’t blame the UK for her criteria for admission into their country particularly on certificate or qualifications. I think we should blame ourselves for the poor level of attention we give to education in our country.

“Today, practically no federal university in the country has a functional laboratory. Part of what the ASUU is fighting for is the revitalisation fund to improve the facilities on our campuses. Why are we not going to be in the lowest ranking level when today the endowment for the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, alone, is more than the entire Nigeria budget in the last five years!” Ogumah said.

“What is the quality of the teaching in our public universities that we want to argue that we should be included?” He asked.

Another student activist at the University of Lagos, Adeyeye Olorunfemi, said, “The blame for this debacle must be dumped at the doorstep of the government.  The question is why don’t we rank well globally?

“I disagree with some who say that our lecturers can’t deliver quality, that’s why the UK wouldn’t be issuing visas to Nigerian graduates. Many of our lecturers also lecture abroad and their expertise is not in doubt.”

“In practical terms, how do you come out as a proper learned person when you spend one month in class and the next three months at home or on the streets due to incessant ASUU strikes?

“How will such an arrangement rank well globally? It’s not possible,” Adeyeye added.

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2023: US vows to impose visa restriction on promoters of violence

The United States of America said it would impose visa restrictions on anyone who promotes violence as Nigeria holds its  general election in 2023.

America’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Mr  Michael Gonzales, handed out the warning at an international conference with the theme: “United States Policy and Nigeria’s National Decisions in the 2023 Elections”, held at John Hopkins University, United States.

The conference, which was held at the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington DC, virtually, brought together Nigerian and American policy communities to discuss issues around the 2023 general election.

It was organised by policy research centre, Nextier Nigeria, in partnership with SAIS at John Hopkins University; the School of International Service at the American University; and the Centre for Peace, Democracy and Development at the University of Massachusetts.

Gonzales said the United States government “will continue to use our messaging, as well as other diplomatic channels at our disposal, including visa restrictions, where warranted, to dissuade those who may be tempted to use violence to undermine Nigeria’s democratic process.”

According to him, the US government remains committed to working with Nigeria to uphold its conventions toward ensuring a peaceful power transition in 2023.

The conference, moderated by Dr  Ndubuisi Nwokolo, a Partner at Nextier and Honorary Research Fellow, School of Government and Society, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, among other global scholars, therefore, stated that Nigeria should maintain existing political conventions that guaranteed peace.

Other event moderators at the conference were Dr Carl LeVan, Professor, School of International Service, American University and Chair, Comparative and Regional Studies; and Dr. Darren Kew, Professor of Conflict Resolution, University of Massachusetts, Boston and Executive Director of Centre for Peace, Democracy and Development.

Nextier’s Founding Partner, Patrick Okigbo, clarified that the reason for hosting the conference in the United States was to elevate the election issues and conversations to the international stage.

He reiterated the need for Nigeria’s international partners to assist in upholding her democratic process, even as he pointed out that “democracy is not an end state but a project that requires continuous nurturing.’’

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Okigbo said, “Insecurity in Nigeria and recent occurrences in West Africa and Sahel regions should cause Nigeria’s elite to use the 2023 elections to douse the tensions and set the country on a growth path.’’

He further cautioned that failure to address the issues raised at the conference could have devastating consequences, whilst attention to the recommendations could yield a bountiful harvest.

Other panellists highlighted the insecurity risks and the need to manage the 2023 elections properly, in addition to other points raised at the conference.

Among these points were the issue of faltering political developments as they concerned elitism and Nigeria’s progress, as it was observed that since 1999, the Nigerian elite had found a way to maintain a modicum of stability for elections and “eventually share the dividends of the election outcomes.”

In his contribution, Brigadier General Saleh Bala (retd.), observed that “security challenges in Nigeria are true, present and tangible but what is consistent is the lurking shadow of elite interests and how they serve their interests.”

On insecurity threats to Nigeria’s democracy, the conference found that poor management of the elections, especially the rotational presidency convention, could threaten Nigeria’s democracy against the backdrop of pervasive insecurity, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, rise of self-help groups, and increased secessionist agitations in southern Nigeria.

Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development, Ms. Idayat Hassan, noted that “political parties during the Anambra  governorship election cycle could not campaign due to insecurity,” and that worse scenarios could happen in 2023.

Hassan asserted that “the zoning of the presidency to the south, particularly the South-East, will give the region a sense of belonging in Nigeria.”

NAN

NIMC, NIS data integration delaying passport issuance – Immigration boss

The Acting Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Isah Idris, has blamed the delay in the issuance of passports on the integration of data between NIS, and the National Identity Management Commission.

He gave the reason in a media briefing on Saturday, warning Nigerians against bribing immigration officials.

Idris said the single data integration policy of the government is aimed at enhancing the nation’s security architecture to protect the identity of Nigerians.

The immigration boss lamented the increasing number of Nigerians seeking override of the newly introduced appointment system for passport issuance, describing it as an abuse of the system.

He said the appointment system was introduced to reduce physical interface with personnel, overcrowding and arbitrariness, which he noted had all consistently combined to promote corruption and abuse.

Idris said, “The delay in the processing of passport applications could be as a result of the integration of data between NIS and the NIMC, which also in turn integrate with the BVN data of applicants.

“Apart from this, because passports confer on holders the integrity of a nation, the integrity of producing such documents should also not be compromised. So, we must verify the addresses of the applicants and there is a company that already does that for us. We must confirm the authenticity of the claims before we proceed with production.

“Nigerians should not induce our officers by giving them money. It won’t make anything fast for them. We have ensured a corruption-free process.”

The acting CGI appealed to Nigerians in diaspora facing difficulties with passports, saying that access to forex has been difficult for the company handling the passport production project.

He said the NIS has a mandate to renew passports within three weeks and complete new applications in six weeks.

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The acting comptroller general of NIS also said the commission had launched an online appointment system.

“Like parcels sent through logistic companies or visa applications, we have introduced a tracking system so that people can stay in the comfort of their rooms and know the status of their passport applications.

“You don’t need to offer anyone any kobo. All that you need to do is to log into our website on www.trackimmigration.gov.ng, upload the required details and see an immediate response on the status of your passports,” he said.

He noted within the next four weeks NIS would deploy a new system for applicants to validate their national identity numbers before they can proceed to make payment for passports online and book appointments for capturing.

“Most delays are usually caused by the NIN validation problems and what we want to do now will allow individual applicants to, first of all, verify and validate their NIN and only upload validated NIN before they can pay for passports. By doing that, we would have successfully tackled the issue of delay from other partners which we don’t have control over,” he said.

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2023: US threatens visa restriction on promoters of violence

The United States of America says it will impose visa restrictions on anyone who promotes violence as Nigeria holds its general election in 2023.

America’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Mr Michael Gonzales, handed out the warning at an international conference with the theme, ‘United States Policy and Nigeria’s National Decisions in the 2023 Elections’, held at Johns Hopkins University, United States.

NAN reports that the conference, which was held at the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington DC , virtually, brought together Nigerian and American policy communities to discuss issues around the 2023 general elections.

Gonzales said the United States government “will continue to use our messaging, as well as other diplomatic channels at our disposal, including visa restrictions, where warranted, to dissuade those who may be tempted to use violence to undermine Nigeria’s democratic process.”

According to him, the US government remains committed to working with Nigeria to uphold its conventions toward ensuring a peaceful power transition in 2023.

Nextier’s Founding Partner, Patrick Okigbo, clarified that the reason for hosting the conference in the United States was to elevate the election issues and conversations to the international stage.

He reiterated the need for Nigeria’s international partners to assist in upholding her democratic process, even as he pointed out that “democracy is not an end state but a project that requires continuous nurturing”.

Okigbo said, “Insecurity in Nigeria and recent occurrences in West Africa and Sahel regions should cause Nigeria’s elite to use the 2023 elections to douse the tensions and set the country on a growth path.”

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He further cautioned that the failure to address the issues raised at the conference could have devastating consequences, whilst attention to the recommendations could yield a bountiful harvest.

Other panellists highlighted the insecurity risks and the need to manage the 2023 elections properly, in addition to other points raised at the conference.

Among these points were the issue of faltering political developments as they concerned elitism and Nigeria’s progress, as it was observed that since 1999, the Nigerian elite had found a way to maintain a modicum of stability for elections and “eventually share the dividends of the election outcomes.”

In his contribution, Retired Brig.-Gen. Saleh Bala observed that “security challenges in Nigeria are true, present and tangible but what is consistent is the lurking shadow of elite interests and how they serve their interests.”

On insecurity threats to Nigeria’s democracy, the conference found that poor management of the elections, especially the rotational presidency convention, could threaten Nigeria’s democracy against the backdrop of pervasive insecurity, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the rise of self-help groups, and increased secessionist agitations in southern Nigeria.

Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development, Ms. Idayat Hassan, noted that “political parties during the Anambra governorship election cycle could not campaign due to insecurity”, and that worse scenarios could happen in 2023.

Hassan asserted that “the zoning of the presidency to the south, particularly the Southeast, will give the region a sense of belonging in Nigeria.”

(NAN)