As visa restrictions by the United States of America bites take a toll on Nigerians, Governor Udom Emmanuel has made a case for a special waiver for Nigerian business people with genuine business dealings in the US.
The governor said that considering various collaborations between the United States and Nigeria, especially Akwa Ibom state, this appeal would not be unusual since most people from the state have genuine business transactions in the United States.
The state chief executive made this appeal while hosting the Deputy Chief of Missions of the United States Embassy, Nigeria, Ms.Kathleen FitzGibbon and the Deputy Chief of Missions of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Ms Katie Donohoe at his country home in Awa-Iman, Onna Local Government Area.
The Governor sued for more transparent and collaborative processes between international donor agencies and the Akwa Ibom State Government in the budgeting and implementation of health awareness and sensitization campaigns in the state.
He said the active partnership with relevant state government agencies would ensure accountability and forestall duplication of efforts and unnecessary waste of resources with minimal results.
The Governor described as huge, the amount said to have been expended in the state during the past ten years on the HIV/AIDS campaigns by USAID,
and noted that for most people in rural areas to be reached on the imperatives of HIV and other health challenges, there is need to synergize efforts especially in the financial planning and implementation of programmes funded by the US government.
While thanking the US Embassy for their contributions towards the fight in keeping the state safe against various diseases, he pledged the State Government’s support in undertaking enlightenment campaigns to reduce HIV related stigma and provision of other resources including rapid test kits.
Earlier, the Deputy Chief of Missions U. S Embassy, Kathleen FitzGibbon stated that the visit was to inform the Government of the assistance given by the United States of America in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
She also solicited for more support from the Government to ensure that the state has zero-tolerance for stigmatisation of people living with the virus thus ensuring greater access to quality anti-retroviral drugs that would sustain life and also prevent the spread of the disease.
She also emphasized the need for the state to enact the anti-stigma law to reduce HIV related stigma in the state and hinted on the mega PCR Laboratory provided for the state by USAID which required Medical Lab Scientists from the state for effective services.
She used the occasion of the visit to condole with the Governor and family over the demise of their father and prayed for the eternal repose of the soul of Late Elder Gabriel Nkanang.
Present during the visit were the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, Commissioner for Health, Dr Dominic Ukpong, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr Patrick Essiet, Vice-Chancellor University of Uyo, Prof Enefiok Essien SAN, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Multilateral & Donor Agencies, Mr Ndiana-Abasi Udom and management of related international agencies in the state, Dr Nkereuwem Etok – Programme Manager, Akwa Ibom State Agency for the Control of AIDS (AKSACA), among others.