Investing in people, significant aspect of U.S. foreign policy—Amb. Leonard

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The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, has said that a significant aspect of America’s foreign policy, and a cornerstone of her leadership of the Mission in Nigeria, was investing in people.

Leonard made this known at the launch of the new American Corner Ikeja,  on Saturday in Lagos.

Newsmen reports that the newly launched facility is one of the 19 American spaces in Nigeria, with other locations in Abeokuta, Ibadan, Uyo, Jos, Kano, Calabar, and others.

The ambassador said that the U.S. government was committed to providing free educational information and programmes to Nigerians to help develop their skills through its network of American spaces  in the country.

She hailed the opening as yet another example of the bourgeoning U.S.-Nigeria bilateral relations, noting the broad range of programmes that took place at the American Corner.  

“The new American Corner Ikeja would function as a centre where young people develop their ideas, as well as their leadership and entrepreneurship skills, through programmes and workshops.

“The American spaces programme certainly exemplifies our commitment to community building.

“Through an emphasis on the three Es,– Engagement, Education and Empowerment, American spaces empower people, especially future leaders, to face the challenges of today and to build a brighter tomorrow,” she said.

She further hailed the mission’s partnership with Venture Garden Group (VGG), which hosts the new American Corner, adding that Lagos was a city of industry, entrepreneurship, and learning.

Bunmi Akinyemiju, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, Venture Garden Group (VGG), said the U.S. Consulate’s partnership with the tech group had been mutually beneficial.   

“The American Corner directly advances one of our commitments to add value to Nigeria’s efforts to develop and support an educational system that will unlock the expertise, innovative spirit, and entrepreneurial capacity of young Nigerians.

“We’re delighted that this new American Corner would offer even more opportunities to young people to discover the U.S. as they prepare for their futures,” he said.   

Lagos state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the state was always open to innovations that had to do with improving education and providing technology opportunities for people who needed such.

Represented by the Special Adviser on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Solape Hammond, Sanwo-Olu noted that the strong interface of education and technology was considered a critical cornerstone of the state’s development and was firmly anchored on partnerships.

“Since the dawn of the fourth republic, the U.S. government had played a pivotal role in the growth and development of many aspects of our economy.

“In recent years, American spaces have been used more strategically in global interest to inform, empower and inspire positive action for generations of young people and professionals around the world”, he noted.

According to him, the new space will go a long way in complementing the efforts of the Lagos state government, particularly in broad areas of promoting education and technology learning.

Newsmen reports that the new space in Ikeja imparts a welcoming and inspiring American-themed environment comprising a maker space, a tech area designed to promote digital skill building as well as a workshop space equipped with the latest laptops and tablets for learning.

Visitors to the American corner are expected to include students, teachers, entrepreneurs, academics, journalists, civic organizations, government officials, community leaders, and others.

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