REVISITING A MOVIE PREMIERE

The art of telling stories through motion pictures is unarguably the most interesting, yet effective way of conveying a message. STRAY is a movie with a serious story. Guests to its premiere in Buea last Saturday, affirm the producers and the actors who interpret the story, packaged it suitably enough. The rest of this assertion would be confirmed after watching the Palmer Ngale Mbua film. Five days after the official outing, we come back to the event through which STRAY was presented to the public for the first time. Apex 1 Radio picked up high moments of the Buea Mountain Hotel red carpet event and in a 30-minute package, we bring them to you. Join us on a special APEX SNAPSHOT (film version) edition as from 11am EST (5pm in Mukunda, Buea) on www.apex1radio.com – tunein app – Facebook Live at Apex 1 Radio-www.apex1radio.com – Take the appointment!

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SAVING MBANGO MOMENTS ON RADIO

Every year, an unaccountable number of movies are released and made to circulate within the African and global film markets. While many of these movies go through their market lifespan with little or no attention, a handful come a long with an amazing conspicuousness, leaving an indelible impact in the history books of seventh art industry. Reasons vary – story topic, storyline, cast, directing, impeccability of quality and above all, marketing campaign that accompanies the project. SAVING MBANGO as a film project is all of these, put in one, resulting in what has been described by pundits as a sumptuous package. The relevance of topic (cancer), the meticulousness in the way it is cinematographically presented plus the energy discharged in its promotion, make SAVING MBANGO (produced by Stephanie Tum and directed by Nkanya Nkwai) an excellent example of a successful project. This Saturday, at the movie’s maiden premiere, Apex 1 Radio beams the event into your homes live from the Canal Olympia Douala venue. Join the radio streaming as from 12:30 eastern time, 6:30pm in Mondoni at www.apex1radio.com – TUNEin (search Apex 1 Radio) – Facebook Live – Apex 1 Radio YouTube channel. Take the appointment!

SERVICE CHIEFS: Why insecurity persists despite Irabor and co efforts — Wisdom, retired US Army colonel

 

Wisdom Osagiede Ogbeowemwenkon Osemwende is a retired officer who served in the United States (US) Army for over 29 years. Born and bred in Benin City, Wisdom rose to the rank of colonel in the world’s strongest military before retiring. But in retirement, Osagiede says he is not tired as he wants to lead Nigeria if elected the President in 2023.

In this interview, the retired colonel explains his mission to Nigerians, explaining how he thinks this venture is possible for a Nigerian who has spent most of his working life abroad.

He also speaks on why insecurity persists in Nigeria despite efforts by Service Chiefs to contain terrorists, bandits and kidnappers.

Retired Colonel Wisdom M. Osagiede Ogbeowemwenkon Osemwende isn’t a person substantially known to Nigerians? Who is he?

I grew up in Lagos where I went to primary school. I later went to secondary school in Benin City. After I travelled abroad, I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business, Master’s of Arts in Mass Communication and I will finish my PhD in Public Policy and Administration in March 2022.

I spent the bulk of my working years in the US military. In fact, I got into the US military in 1987 and retired in 2016. During my time there, I journeyed across the field with countless leadership positions and operations across the world. Some of my most significant assignments in the US military were the expeditions in Iraq and my trips to several places around the world for humanitarian services.

I also joined in the efforts to rebuild Iraq after the war. I worked in the US diplomatic missions in Uganda, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

I was the first US officer to train the National Emergency Management Agency, known as NEMA in Nigeria when I was with the US Africa Command in Germany. I trained senior Nigerian military officers and senior civilian executives on disaster relief and pandemic response. As a civil affairs officer within the US military, I travelled across the world providing social services to populations.

These trips took me to orphanages and highly needy communities. I piloted the project for a network of Non-Governmental Organizations that converged on Iraq for post-war development efforts. I trained Iraqis on local governance.

You have lived most of your working life abroad – how much of Nigerian do you know?

I have virtually lived all my working life abroad like you mentioned. However, I have always been actively present in Nigeria, as far as everything is concerned. Since I relocated, I have kept in touch with my country by visiting Nigeria every single year. I do not only travel home annually, I also make trips to different parts of Nigeria during my visit home. Nigerians know me, I have friends everywhere in the country and I have family here.

I read Nigerian papers regularly, listen to Nigerian news on the radio and watch it on TV. I am abreast with the happenings in my country. Most importantly, I have always been involved in the development of Nigeria and have made frantic contributions to the social and economic growth of the country.

I personally provide support to many families by way of paying school fees and the provision of some basic needs. I have always donated working tools to hard-working individuals to help grow their businesses, especially at the subsistence level.

For how long have you nursed the ambition of running for President in Nigeria?

As a little boy growing up quite close to my father, he emphasized the importance of education. He never failed to do so. My father was a civil servant in the colonial era. This probably explains why he was an unrepentant lover of education.

He would explain to me that with a sound background in education, I could easily become the number one executive officer in Nigeria. This encouragement stemmed from my interest in governance which I expressed each time I saw a member of the Nigerian government riding across the city. I soon noticed myself not only becoming familiar with these people but also nursing the ambition of getting into a position of leadership someday. However, it is after I had served in other capacities and retired that I decided to run for office for the first time.

Nigeria has a history of being run by military leaders – first, what is your take on having uniform people in power?

The military is not designed to rule or be in power. Its responsibility is to protect the territorial integrity of the country against enemy forces, both internally and externally. That does not, however, mean leaders who have military backgrounds are incompetent. Rather, military personnel have a strong foundation in administration.

The United States military is a great example of excellence in administration. If there is one thing I have benefitted more from the US military, it is good administration. While we are still serving, we are not meant to run for political office and get in power, even with great administrative skills. So, having retired from the military with these skills, I think the right place to exercise them is at the helm of the Nigerian administration.

In your own understanding, how would you describe Nigeria 50 years after independence?

Fifty years after independence, Nigeria still has a long way to go. The country has made frantic efforts in every area of life, including democracy. The fact that Nigeria can organize and run elections where the people elect their leaders and life moves on is a great achievement.

That Nigeria is the biggest economy on the continent is a fact we cannot take for granted. That we can point at some great road infrastructure and modern bridges is something to be proud of. In the past three decades, Nigeria has produced an amazing number of intellectuals, thanks to the country’s enviable universities.

That should make every Nigerian a happy man. With a film industry that has helped to employ Nigerians and standing tall as the second employment sector, one can only raise their thump up. I can go on and on.

However, Nigeria has not had the score we would have expected since gaining independence. We still have development issues such as poor farms to market roads, inadequate health infrastructure, poor maintenance culture and lack of classrooms and other learning materials in our schools. Socially, Nigeria still swims in poverty, unemployment, diseases and many other things I will be addressing in my campaign.

These issues you have raised, and perhaps more, have been highlighted by every presidential hopeful over the years. Yet, victorious ones have come to power, governed, and left without properly solving them. Why do you think there is stagnation?

The refusal to share notes is the root cause of stagnation. By that, I mean successive governments have preferred to start things all over and only implement their plans rather than continuing from where their predecessors ended.

When you operate that way, you are indirectly rubbishing some good works already done. It is not everything about a previous administration that is bad. Governance and development are continuous – you simply continue from where your predecessor ended and your successor will go on from where you stopped.

Isn’t it one country, made up of one person, with one dream? America and other great nations believe strongly in the system of sharing notes – you explain what you have done, where you ended and hand over the tools for me to continue. I can start implementing my plans when I would have completed the work you didn’t complete at the time you were leaving. That is how a country should be run.

You have declared your intention to contest for the presidency of Nigeria in 2023. Do you have the financial muscle?

Not yet! I will declare that soon, but for now, I would want to say God will provide the finances required to take up and complete this journey. At this juncture, I can confidently say I’m the most experienced aspirant in the race based on my experience in international interactions through the United States government.

On which platform do you want to actualize your aspiration, and have you registered as a member of the party?

I would like to contest under the All Progressives Congress, APC, which is currently in power. I am joining APC because of the party’s stability. Also, the party has been noted for bringing forth the necessary change that Nigeria had longed for. APC has righted the wrongs of the past and that inspires me a great deal.

What do you say about the mode of selecting parties’ candidates, direct or indirect primaries?

It’s difficult to monitor direct primaries, unlike the indirect. I’m however very comfortable with direct primaries because everyone takes part in the process. It is more democratic.

How do you assess the defence & security situation of Nigeria against the backdrop of the fact that our Service Chiefs are one year old in office?

The security situation in Nigeria, from every indication, is a great concern of the current administration. The Chief of the Defense Staff, General Irabor, is a man of great honour – a gentlemen and hard worker. He is a defence professional I have trailed him since the days of Boko Haram. He put up a great performance in north-eastern Nigeria.

I must applaud his good work and commitment to see the security situation of the country improve tremendously by the day. By the way, I would retain him when I get in the office. Nigeria is vast and to have the country’s security under total control requires much work.

However, what I would say with sincerity is that there is still much work to be done. The Nigerian military deserves far more than what it currently has. There is need for great motivation in terms of salaries and welfare package. That means pay rise needs to be an urgent assignment for the next administration.

Secondly, the military in Nigeria needs to be equipped with up-to-date working tools. Thirdly, Nigeria needs a properly trained military, ready to deploy within 24 hours. Also, a high degree of discipline needs to be buttressed in the ranks of the military, plus other reforms. To achieve these, the military budget needs to be handsome. My years of experience in the world’s most advanced and equipped military give me the audacity to make reforms in Nigeria.

Nigeria is faced with insecurity problems with Boko Haram, banditry, kidnappers holding sway in different parts of the country.  As a retired United States military officer, what is your advice to the Federal Government?

The Federal Government should modernize the military and security agencies. This can be done by recruiting more personnel as the strength of every military is also the number of men and women in the force. The military should be restructured. Also, by providing adequate and more strategic training, the men in uniform could handle these crises in a more apt manner. The Nigerian military should be furnished with state-of-the-art equipment. It would certainly perform better with an improved welfare package. The security budget also needs to be inflated.

The Federal Government recently acquired the American made Tucano fighter jets. Do you think this can change the tide of the war?

I’m quite familiar with the Tucano which is also known as A-29. It uses a turbo engine. It flies low and aims at its target. It can operate two missions – as a fighter jet and conducting reconnaissance operations. The Tucano is excellent on rough terrains. You know, Tucano can only provide the results if the soldiers using it are adequately trained. So, Nigerian soldiers need to be trained to the extent whereby a private soldier can request air support from the mission station and the former will not be referred to the higher headquarters. In the U.S, a private soldier can request air support during combat operations and get it within five minutes at the grid coordinate.

Tell us about the Nigeria Police and your vision.

A country with a strong internal security setup is a successful country. The Nigeria Police, I would say, are far more advanced than those of other countries in Africa, but it is not where it should be today. There is a dire need for a lot of improvement. First, the Nigeria Police need pay rise as a matter of urgency.

Most of the problems that have pinned this corps to the ground stemmed from inadequate pay. The police should not appear as a beggarly corps. It is not only a respectable profession, but officers are men and women who should feel proud to protect the citizens of their country. For them to function properly, they need to be motivated with a better welfare package. Also, and most importantly, I will abolish the barracks and implement community policing. That is my vision for the Nigeria Police.

Nigeria’s economy has been reliant on the petroleum sector for a while. Is that where your heart beats more?

Surprising no! My focus will be agriculture.

Nigeria has not exploited this sector sufficiently, whereas it is potentially the country’s economic solution. We need to get back to the farms and produce food and cash crops. Nigeria has the soil, and we can cultivate crops that can be exported with a comfortable return on investment for the country’s economy.

We will embark on mechanized agriculture as well and provide financial and material support to farmers. My administration will encourage the South-East region to get fully involved in manufacturing agricultural machinery.

Tell us about your plans to improve the health sector.

We will start by working assiduously on health infrastructure. We will set up health centers in most villages across the country. There will be centralized clinics for small communities. The existing infrastructure will be improved upon. My administration will introduce a well-organized and affordable health insurance policy across Nigeria.

There will be free medical treatment for Nigerians who cannot afford it. I will leverage this from my experience in the United States.

Nigeria, just like other African countries, is made up of different ethnic groups. It is not all the time that these groups interact peacefully. In fact, the country has witnessed some ethnic clashes in the past, some of which have been bloody. What is your provision for ethnic division?

First, I will organize a high-level summit for leaders of the three major tribes in Nigeria, the Yoruba, the Igbo, the Hausa and Fulani. Discussions at this summit will focus on ways they can live together convivially. My administration will encourage patriotism and let people know they are Nigerians and only belong to Nigeria.

They must have the country at heart. It is by loving each other that they will love Nigeria. We want Nigerians to see themselves as Nigerians and not as Yoruba, Igbo, Hausas and Fulani.

What will be your major areas of focus if elected President?

I will be very strong on defense and security. I plan to organize an economic and security summit with the United States government if elected. At this summit, we will request the United States’ help in modernizing livestock which will be beneficial to the Fulani. This would replace the nomadic way of grazing that appears to cause a lot of security problems.

This and many more I would do with the US will improve and strengthen the relationship between both countries. Every Nigeria shall be free to move about and carry out their duties. This can only happen when there is total security.

To that effect, security will be my major focus. I will face security head-on and make it difficult for intruders to beat the system. To fight against terrorism, I will erect a wall along Nigerian borders. There will only be a one-way in and a one-way out of Nigeria. This, I believe, will make things difficult for terrorists who move out of the country, train, and return to wreak havoc. Rest assured that Boko Haram will cease to exist once I get in office. My inspiration here is General Collin Powell’s war doctrine which will be forced on terrorists and bandits.

You can refer to my July 14, 2013 interview with Vanguard newspaper. I will pay very close attention to defence. I will be very involved in the defence of Nigeria. My administration will combat poverty by introducing programs that will eliminate suffering. We will also focus on education by providing free schooling at the primary and secondary levels. Identification of Nigerians is primordial, so we will ensure that everyone has an ID card.

We will support those who cannot afford it. Meanwhile, we will create a national database for identification cards where biometric fingerprints will help us detect criminals.

BY GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE

Vanguard News Nigeria

“I’m Who Nigeria Needs Most” Osagiede Ogbeowemwenkon Osemwende 2023 Presidential Aspirant

Osagiede Ogbewekon Wisdom is a retired military personnel who served in the United States Army for well over 29 years. Born and bred in Nigeria, the firmly educated soldier from Benin City, rose to the rank of Colonel, after climbing the ladder with a heavy bag of experience hanging on his shoulder. After almost three decades in studying and experiencing leadership within the world’s most enviable and strongest military, including successful operations with the United Nations system, Osagiede has resolved it is time to give back to his country, Nigeria. To the Nigerian who says his lifetime ambition is to turn the West African nation into the world’s most enviable democracy and most sought-after destination, changing Nigeria would be best implemented from Aso Rock. The USA-based son of Benin City is therefore aspiring for a flag which he hopes to bear to the 2023 Presidential elections. Before the primaries from where Osagiede hopes to emerge, the ex-soldier, now civilian, is tasking himself to clearly explain his mission to Nigerians, so they can see sufficient reason why they should give him a mandate to carry their aspirations to where they are aiming. In an interview prior to the official declaration of his willingness to run for the Nigerian presidency, Osagiede explains why he thinks the destiny of Nigeria between 2023 and 2027, at least, for the first term, should be entrusted in him. He also explains how he thinks this venture is possible for a Nigerian who has spent most of his working life abroad. The Houston, Texas-based presidential aspirant spoke to international Journalist, Ernest Kanjo of Apex 1 Radio and Gabriel Enogholase of The Vanguard. Excerpts!

Ernest Kanjo: Could you tell us more about retired Colonel Wisdom M. Osagiede Ogbeowemwenkon Osemwende?

Osagiede Ogbeowemwenkon : Absolutely! I grew up in Lagos where I went to primary school. I later went to secondary and high school in Benin City. When I travelled abroad, I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business, Master of Arts in Mass communication and recently finished my PhD in Public Policy and Administration. I spent a bulk of my working years in the U.S military. In fact, I got into the U.S military in 1987 and only retired in 2016. During my time there, I journeyed across the field with countless leadership positions and operations across the world. Some of the most significant assignments in the U.S military were the expeditions in Iraq and my trips to several places around the world for humanitarian services. I also went back to rebuild Iraq after the war. I did same to many other countries that had been destroyed by war. I worked for the US diplomatic missions in Uganda, Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. I was the first US Officer to train the National Emergency Management Agency, known as NEMA in Nigeria. I trained senior Nigerian military officers and senior civilian executives on disaster relief and pandemic response. As a civil affairs officer within the U.S military, I travelled across the world providing social services to populations. These trips took me to orphanages and highly needy communities. I piloted the project for a network of Non-Governmental Organizations that converged on Iraq for post-war development efforts. I trained Iraqis on local governance.

Ernest Kanjo: You have lived most of your working life abroad – how much of Nigerian do you know?

Osagiede Ogbewekon: I have virtually lived all my working life abroad, like you mention. However, I have always been actively present in Nigeria, as far as everything is concerned. Since I relocated, I have kept in touch with my country by visiting Nigeria every single year. I do not only travel home annually, but I make trips to different parts of Nigeria during my visits there. This has been going on since I moved abroad. Nigerians know me, I have friends everywhere in the country and I have family there. I read Nigerian papers regularly, listen to Nigerian news on radio and watch it on TV. I am abreast with the happenings in my country. Most importantly, I have always been involved in the development of Nigeria and have made frantic contributions to the social and economic growth of the country. I personally provide support to many families by way of paying school fees and the provision of some basic needs. I have always donated working tools to hard working individuals to help grow their businesses, especially at subsistence level.

Ernest Kanjo: For how long have you nursed ambitions of running for president in Nigeria?

Osagiede Ogbewekon: As a little boy growing up quite close to my father, he emphasized the importance of education. He never failed to do so. My father was a civil servant in the colonial era. This probably explains why he was an unrepentant lover of education. He would explain to me that with a sound background in education, I could easily become the number one executive officer in mighty Nigeria, why not. This encouragement stemmed from my interest in governance which I expressed each time I saw a member of the Nigerian government riding across the city. I soon noticed myself not only becoming familiar with these people, but nursing ambitions of getting into a position of leadership someday. However, it is after I had served in other capacities and retired, that I have decided run for office for the first time.

Ernest Kanjo: Nigeria has a history of being run by military leaders – first, what is your take on having uniform people in power?

Osagiede Obgewekon: The military is not designed to rule or be in power. Its responsibility is the protect the territorial integrity of the country against enemy forces, both internally and externally. That does not however mean leaders who hail from a military background are incompetent. Rather, military personnel have a strong foundation in administration. The United States military is a great example of excellence in administration. If there is one thing I have benefitted more from the U.S military, it is good administration. While we are still serving, we are not meant to run for political office and get in power, even with great administration skills.  So, having retired from the military with these skills, I think the right place to exercise them is at the helm of Nigerian administration.

Ernest Kanjo: In your own understanding, how would you describe Nigeria 50 years after independence?

Osagiede Ogbewekon: Fifty years after independence, Nigeria still has a very long way to go. The country has made some frantic efforts in every area of life, including democracy. The fact that Nigeria can organize and run elections where the people elect their leaders and life moves on, is a great achievement. That Nigeria is the biggest economy on the continent, is a fact we cannot take for granted. That we can point at some great road infrastructure and modern bridges, is something to be proud of. In the past three decades, Nigeria has produced a amazing number of intellectuals, thanks to the country’s enviable universities. That should make every Nigerian a happy man. With a film industry that has helped to employ Nigerians and standing tall as the second employment sector, one can only raise their thump up. I can go on and on. However, Nigeria has not had the score we would have expected since gaining independence. We still have development issues such as poor farm to market roads, inadequate health infrastructure, poor maintenance culture and lack of classrooms and other learning materials in our schools. Socially, Nigeria still swims in poverty, unemployment, and disease and many other things I will be addressing in my campaign.

Ernest Kanjo: These issues you have raised and perhaps more, have been highlighted by every presidential hopeful over the years. Yet, victorious ones have come to power, governed, and left without properly solving these problems. Why do you think there is this stagnation?

Osagiede Obgewekon: The refusal to share notes is the root cause of this stagnation. By that, I mean successive governments have preferred to start things all over and only implement their plan, than continuing from where their predecessors ended. When you operate that way, you are indirectly rubbishing some good work already done. It is not everything about a previous administration that is bad. Governance and development is continuous – you simply continue from where your predecessor ended and your successor will go on from where you stopped. Isn’t it one country, made up of one people, with one dream? America and other great nations believe strongly in the system of sharing notes – you explain what you have done, where you ended and hand over the tools for me to continue. I can start implementing my plans when I would have completed the work you didn’t complete at the time you were leaving. That is how a country should be run.

Gabriel Enogholase: You have declared your intention to contest the presidency of Nigeria in 2023. Do you have the financial muscle to do so?

Osagiede Ogbewekon: Not yet! I will declare that soon, but for now, I would want to say God will provide the finances required to take up and complete this journey. At this juncture, I can confidently say I’m the most experience candidate in the race, based on my experience in international interactions through the United States government.

Gabriel Enogholase: Which of the major political party do you want to contest, and have you register a member of the party?

Osagiede Obgewekon: I would like to contest under the All-Progressive Congress, APC which is currently in power. I am gunning for APC because of the party’s stability. Also, the party has been noted for bringing forth the necessary change which Nigeria had longed for. APC has righted the wrongs of the past and that inspires me a great deal.

Gabriel Enogholase: What will you say about the mode of selecting our leaders, direct or indirect primaries?

Osagiede Obgewekon: It’s difficult to monitor the direct primaries, unlike the indirect. I’m however very comfortable with direct primaries because everyone takes part in the process. It is more democratic.

Ernest Kanjo: How would you assess the Defense & Security situation of Nigeria?

Osagiede Obgewekon: The security situation in Nigeria, from every indication, is a great concern of the current administration. The Chief of Defense Staff, General Irabor is a man of great honor – a very dignified gentlemen and hard worker. He is a defense professional I have trailed since the days of Boko Haram. He put up a great performance at the Northeastern region of Nigeria. I must applaud his good work and commitment to see the security situation of the country improve tremendously by the day. By the way, I would retain him when I get in office. Nigeria is vast and to have the country’s security under total control requires much work. However, what I would say with sincerity is that there is still much work to be done. The Nigerian military deserves far more than what it currently has. There is need for great motivation in terms of salaries and welfare package. That means pay rise needs to be an urgent assignment for any next administration. Secondly, the military in Nigeria needs to be equipped with up-to-date working tools. Thirdly, Nigeria needs a properly trained military, ready to deploy within 24 hours. Also, a high degree of discipline needs to be buttressed in the ranks of the military, plus other reforms. To achieve these, the military budget needs to be handsome. My years of experience in the world’s most advanced and equipped military, give me the audacity to make these reforms in Nigeria.

Gabriel Enogholase: Nigeria now is faced with insecurity problems with the Boko Haram, banditry, kidnappers holding sway in different parts of the country.  As a retired Untied States military officer, what is your advice to the Federal government?

 

Osagiede Ogbewekon:

It would first say the Federal government should modernize the Nigerian military and security agencies. This can be done by recruiting more personnel, for, the strength of every military, is also the number of men and women in the force. The military should be restructured. Also, by providing adequate and more strategic training, the men in uniform could handle these crises in a more apt manner. The Nigerian miliary should be well furnished with state-of-the-art equipment. It would certainly perform better with an improved welfare package. The security budget also needs to be inflated.

 

Gabriel Enogholase: The Federal government recently acquired the American made Tucano fighter jets. Do you think this can change the tide of the war?

Osagiede Obgewekon: I’m quite familiar with the Tucano which is also known as A-29. It uses a turbo engine. It flies low and aims at its target. It can operate two missions – as a fighter jet and conducting racon operations. The Tucano is excellent on rough terrains. You know, Tucano can only provide the results if the soldiers using it are adequately trained. So, Nigerian soldiers need to be trained to the extent where a private solider can request air support from the mission station and the former will not be referred to the higher headquarters. In the U.S, you may like to know, a private soldier can request air support during combat operations and get it within five minute at the grid coordinate.

Ernest Kanjo: Tell us about the Nigerian police and your vision towards this corps.

Osagiede Obgewekon: A country with a strong internal security set-up, is a successful country. The Nigeria police, I would say, is far more advanced than those of other countries in Africa, but it is not where it should be today. There is a dire need for a lot of improvement. First, the Nigerian police needs pay rise as a matter of urgency. Most of the problems that have pinned this corps to the ground, have stemmed from inadequate pay. The police should not appear as a beggarly corp. It is not only a respectable profession, but officers are men and women who should feel proud to protect citizens of their country. For them to function properly, they need to be motivated with better a welfare package. Also, and most importantly, I will abolish the barracks and implement community policing. That is my vision for the Nigerian police.

Gabriel Enogholase: Nigeria’s economy has been reliant on the petroleum sector for a while. Is that where your heart beats more?

Osagiede Ogbewekon: Surprising no! My focus will be agriculture. Nigeria has exploited this sector sufficiently, whereas it is potentially the country’s economic solution. We need to get back to the farms and produce food and cash crops. Nigeria has the soil, and we can cultivate crops that can be exported with a comfortable return on investment for the country’s economy. We will embark on mechanized agriculture as well and provide financial and material support to farmers. My administration will encourage the Southeast region to get fully involved in manufacturing agricultural machinery.

Gabriel Enogholase: Tell us about your plans to improve the health sector.

Osagiede Ogbewekon: We will start by working assiduously on health infrastructure. We will set up health centers in most villages across the country. There will be centralized clinics for small neighbouring communities. The existing infrastructure will be improved upon. My administration will introduce a well-organized and affordable health insurance policy across Nigeria. There will free medical treatment for Nigerians who cannot afford. I will leverage this from my experience in the United States.

Ernest Kanjo & Gabriel Enogholase: Nigeria, just like other African countries, is made up of different ethnic groups. It is not all the time that these groups interact peacefully. In fact, the country has witnessed some ethnic clashes in the past, some of which have been bloody. What is your provision for ethnic division?

Osagiede Ogbewekon: First, I will organize a high-level summit for leaders of the three major tribes in Nigeria, that is, the Yurobas, the Igbos, the Hausas and Fulanis. Discussions at this summit will focus on ways they can live together convivially. My administration will encourage patriotism and let people know they are Nigerians and only belong to Nigeria. They must have the country at heart. It is by loving each other that they will love Nigeria. We will want Nigerians to see themselves as Nigerians and not as Yorubas, Igbos, Hausas and Fulanis.

Gabriel Enogholase: What will be your major areas of focus if elected president?

 

Osagiede Ogbewekon: I will be very strong on defense and security. As soon as I am elected, I plan to organize an economic and security summit with the United States government, if elected. At this summit, we will request the United States’ help in modernizing livestock which will be beneficial to the Fulanis. This would replace the nomadic way of grazing that appears to cause a lot of security problems. This and many more things I would do with the US, will improve, and strengthen the relationship between both countries. Every Nigeria shall be free to move about and carry out their duties. This can only happen when there is total security. To that effect, security will be my major focus. I will face security head-on and make it difficult for intruders to beat the system. To fight against terrorism, I will erect a wall along all Nigerian borders. There will only be a one-way in and one-way out of Nigeria. This, I believe will make things difficult for terrorists who move out of the country, train, and return to cause havoc. Be rest assured that Boko Haram will cease to exist once I get in office. My inspiration here is General Collin Powell’s war doctrine which will be forced on the terrorists and bandits. You can refer to my July 14, 2013 interview with The Vanguard newspaper. I will pay a very close attention to defense. I will be very involved in the defense of Nigeria. My administration will combat poverty by introducing programs that will uplift suffering. We will also focus on education by providing free schooling in the primary and secondary level. Identification of Nigerians is primordial, so we will ensure that everyone has an ID card. We will support those who cannot afford it. Meanwhile, we will create a national database for identification cards where the biometric fingerprint will help us detect criminals.

Michigan upsets Ohio State 42-27

Originally Posted by: , November 27, 2021

By Jessie Dingess

Who was hungry enough to go to the Big Ten Championship? The Big Blue showed up ready to eat and pulled through a major upset. No. 5 Michigan swept No. 2 Ohio State, 42-27, ending the Wolverines’ eight-game losing streak to the not-so-popular Buckeyes while giving Harbaugh his first win over Ohio State as coach at Michigan.

This big win also clinches the Big Ten East title for the Wolverines, appearing in the Big Ten Championship Game since 2011 they’re first.
Michigan, which had a split half of the Big Ten East back in 2018, is also seeking its first Big Ten title since 2004.

Although the Wolverines were the better team from start to finish, they pulled and held 75 yards on the game’s opening run to take a 7-0 lead and never looked back. The Buckeyes briefly took the lead during the second quarter, but the Big Blue erased it quickly.
One of the primary keys to the game was Michigan’s rushing attack, led by Hassan Haskins, who crushed the day with 169 yards rushing and an astounding five touchdowns. Aidan Hutchinson swept the load for the Michigan defense, picking up three sacks, setting a brand new single-season program record of 13 takedowns.
Garrett Wilson (10 catches, 119 yards) and Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11 receptions, 127 yards) both had huge days for the Buckeyes offense, but it just wasn’t good enough to pull off a win.

Was it a case of Michigan catching a break or two that decided the game or Ohio State having a bad day? When the buckeyes tried to show up and seemed to get a hold of the game, Michigan answered. Michigan showed they were the better team from the jump and never took its foot off the pedal.
Even when Ohio State needed a stop on defense, the Wolverines took to their offensive line and running backs to keep the game alive. It was pretty amazing how often the Wolverines were able to turn around, hand the ball to Haskins or Blake Corum to keep moving the chains, and they delivered effortlessly every single time.

The Wolverines showed they were also the more disciplined team on this big day. In the first quarter, an interception from McNamara killed an entrance chance to go up two scores, but the only blemishes were two penalties for 20 yards. Compared to Ohio State, which never turned the ball over but lost 66 yards on ten penalties. There were several false starts on the Buckeyes that hurt the offense, and on one defensive possession, they gave away to the Wolverines with first downs thanks to an offsides call and pass interference.
As talented and dangerous as Ohio State is, you must play a nearly perfect game to win against them. On the big game day, Michigan showed up and did just that, and they are going to the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis because of it.

Ohio State had difficulty staying on schedule, but Michigan showed up. Doing the simple things helps you win football games, and Michigan was much better at them than Ohio State. The Wolverines converted 5 of 8 third-down attempts in the game to keep drives alive, and the biggest reason was their performance on first and second downs. The average distance Michigan needed to get on third down in this game was 3 yards. Ohio State needed an average of getting 7.3 yards on its third-down attempts, which explains why they were only 8 of 18, but still pretty impressive.
With the Wolverines showing they were far more effective on first down, picking up 278 yards on 33 first down plays, they rounded to an average of 8.4 yards per play. Ohio State managed only 5.1 yards on first downs, and there aren’t many defenses you want to face less in third-and-long situations than this Michigan defense, which is why the Wolverines were able to sack Buckeyes QB C.J. Stroud four times and get eight tackles for loss.
Ohio State’s defense didn’t have a single tackle for loss in the game. Michigan’s offensive line better not have to buy a meal on campus for the rest of the year.
Could this cost Stroud the Heisman Trophy? He became the favorite for the award last week after tearing Michigan State apart, but the lack of a Big Ten Championship Game appearance could hurt his candidacy, as does losing this game, even though the loss was not Stroud’s fault. Stroud completed 34 of 49 passes for 394 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover, but it wasn’t enough. The race was very close with too many contenders.
The downfall was Ohio State’s defense. Early in the season, when OSU lost to Oregon, it outmuscled. Oregon rushed for 269 yards and three touchdowns that day, averaging 7.08 yards per carrying. On Saturday, Michigan rushed for 297 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 7.2 yards per carrying.

Deserves of this one is Harbaugh: Think back around to this time last year. Harbaugh was a dead man walking, and even when he restructured his contract, seen as a lame-duck entering the 2021 season. Instead, he’s just completed his best regular season as the coach at Michigan and beat Ohio State for the first time.
Many coaches could be willing to accept a pay cut to stay at a job, instead preferring to move on and start fresh elsewhere. But with a decision that showed it wasn’t about his pride or his ego, Harbaugh came through. He showed he loved the school and wanted to restore a football program that had fallen on hard times when he returned to Michigan. He made the changes necessary for it to happen and will see rewards for it.

Crusaders cruises in the 2nd half to win NCAA DIII

Posted by:  , December 20, 2021

By Okon Ekpenyong

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders won their second Stagg Bowl title on Friday, December 17, 2021, defeating North Central College Cardinals 57-24 at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

It would have been their third, but in their 2016 Championship run, the NCAA stated that the program violated an NCAA Policy, taking away that win. The program played in 2004, 2016, and 2017 and won it in 2018, but their 2016 and 2017 run violated NCAA Policy.

Both teams came into the title game undefeated, and throughout the season, looked good on paper both defensively and offensively. Both teams struggled to put points on the board during the first two quarters, but UMHD managed to end the first quarter on a 16-7 lead. However, in the second quarter, North Central College did outplay them scoring 10-3. In the third QTR, UMHB took advantage of NCC offensive struggles by scoring 14-0, and in the fourth QTR, the UMHB receiving squad of Brenton Martin & Brandon Jordan proved to be much for the NCC Cornerbacks outscoring the Cardinals 24-7 to end the game.

Former receiver for the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Eric Schoenert, spoke to the New Americans Magazine about the Crusader Football Alumni Association.

The association organizes tailgates for home and away games, and it is part of the Christian fellowship program that connects former and current players. The majority of the players attending the tailgates and the championship game played 2004-2018.

2021 Stagg NCAA DIII Championship game prediction:

We are very proud of the success we’ve had and what we’ve been able to get back from the program. North Central is a good team, and they got here for a reason. UMHB is firing from all cylinders, and offensively I don’t know how they will stop all of our weapons. We are significantly faster than they are and in a similar size. I think we will win the game, probably by a touchdown, and the team that gets to thirty the fastest will have a better chance of winning it all.  (Eric Schoenert)

Eric’s prediction was 24-17, but the UMHD ended up winning 57-24 to take home their second Stagg Bowl for the 2nd time in school history.

Eric added that they had been successfully capitalizing on third and fourth-down conversions. We still like to run on third-down conversion, but we become more of a passing team in the last four to five weeks of play. Because we have outstanding receivers, their corners will typically back off on the opposite side so we can run a hatch route and get a first down on a third and 7 by running a pass and play.  (Eric Schoenert).

Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium:

The city of Canton and Hall of Fame committee has done a fantastic job taking care of both teams and showing UMHB and NCC the Hall of Fame Stadium and around the Hall of Fame Museum itself. The Committee made it a memorable experience for both programs, specifically the players. It is a great stadium, and it will be something special for the players on either side.  We play at a magnificent stadium at Crusader Stadium in Belton, TX, and we are lucky and blessed to have a quality program and facility.  Eric added that they are intimidated playing at the stadium, but it is an opportunity that the program will remember forever.  (Eric Schoenert)

Growth of Division III:

Players want to go places they think would make a difference and be active right away. Fans can expect those numbers to increase across any football division. Also, with the rise of social media, accessing quality games that are more accessible means that fans will be more aware of better teams versus only following the schools that everybody already knows. It helps put more spotlight on smaller schools. (Eric Schoenert)

“We are in the heart of Texas, so we recruit players from Dallas and down to Houston. The University sells itself, but because some of those players are in weight or height, it may disqualify the DI from giving them a chance. But if they have a passion for the game and are willing to sacrifice to prove themselves, we would love to have them”, Coach Pete Fredenburg said.

“It is always about team chemistry because when you see other players stepping up at the highest level, you too as a player, challenge you to complete with all of your heart and might. And when the team is as successful as we are, it gives us hope that a DIII program will arise, and everybody, including future players, should notice”, QB Kyle King said.

Recruitment:

Division III Football has continued to grow since I played back in 2004. Our most famous alumni Darrell Freeman would play for the Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, and many successful seasons. Other programs did overlook Freeman for his sizes from DI schools across Texas, and so he came in with a chip on his shoulder by doing everything asked to make himself better and get noticed by the NFL. There’s always an opportunity for the coaching staff to find players committed to the game itself and have a chance to make it to the league stage after their collegiate careers are over.

Crusader Football Alumni Association:

We are a proud alumni association; we support our players and student-athletes across campus. We also support other sports on campus, but Football is our primary focus.  (Eric Schoenert)

Coaches and Players reaction:

Fredenburg, Mr. Pete Head Coach, Football, commented on the player Alumni association. We have strived to focus on Team Chemistry since we started the program in 1998. It solidifies the team concept of people that care for one another. Within the association, current and past build a bond, and the players genuinely care for and love one another, and have fun being a part of it, indeed.

“We go through so much being a student-athlete, and because these guys understand and have been there, it helps,” one of the UMHD players added.

USCIS Announces 855,000 new U.S. citizens for FY 2021 Accomplishments

Posted by:  , December 16, 2021
  • Approves USCIS approximately 835,000 requests for initial DACA and over 2.3 million requests for renewal of DACA

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS has welcomed 855,000 new U.S. citizens, including derivative citizens during FY 2021.

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the help of video-facilitated interviews and pandemic-safe interview procedures, USCIS continued to process naturalization cases at pre-pandemic levels during FY 2021 and completed approximately 895,000 naturalization applications, conducted more than 52,000 video-facilitated interviews, and hosted more than 40,000 naturalization ceremonies.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said in its preliminary fiscal year (FY) 2021 agency statistics and accomplishments release that, “these preliminary statistics highlight important immigration trends and illustrate the work accomplished by USCIS in FY 2021,” adding that “the agency will publish final, verified FY 2021 statistics in January 2022.”

“I’m immensely proud of the USCIS workforce and for their achievements in a year of many challenges and rebuilding. From responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing processing delays to enacting numerous operational and policy changes in response to executive orders from the Biden-Harris Administration, FY 2021 marks a year of growth and renewed vision for our agency,” said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou.

“In the upcoming year, we will continue to serve the public with compassion and reflect America’s promise as a nation of welcome and possibilities for all. As we administer our nation’s immigration system as an engine of American strength, we will adjudicate requests with fairness, efficiency and integrity.”

The release said “USCIS continues to promote and improve access to naturalization pursuant to EO 14012 and the Interagency Strategy for Promoting Naturalization, which was released publicly on July 2, 2021.

“USCIS has taken a number of steps to reduce barriers to naturalization and promote citizenship, including phasing out the 2020 version of the Naturalization Civics Test and reverting back to the 2008 Test on March 1; decreasing the pending naturalization case queue by approximately 14% from January to September 2021; conducting video interviews of overseas military members and qualifying family members, as well as video naturalization ceremonies, with the assistance of the Department of Defense; reusing approximately 838,000 naturalization applicants’ biometrics since March 1; relaunching the Outstanding Americans by Choice initiative; and releasing $10 million to 40 citizenship grantees for FY 2022.”

Addressing Challenges

Fiscal Health: USCIS fiscal health has improved significantly during FY 2021 as a result of measures the agency implemented to reduce spending, as well as an increase in Immigration Examinations Fee Account revenue receipts, which have exceeded projections.

Temporary Flexibilities in Response to COVID-19: The health and safety of our workforce and those we serve remained a top priority. USCIS continued temporary flexibilities related to COVID-19, including allowing more time for responses to certain USCIS requests and notices.

Employment-Based Adjustments: USCIS faced the unprecedented challenge of processing over 237,000 employment-based Green Card applications—not only the agency’s usual 115,000, but an additional 122,000 immigrant visa numbers that the Department of State was unable to process in FY 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By the end of FY 2021, USCIS approved over 172,000 employment-based adjustment of status applications, an increase of 50% above the typical baseline.

Processing Delays: Across the agency, the volume of pending cases increased as well as the associated processing times. USCIS has made significant strides in addressing processing delays caused by COVID-19 and other factors while responding to new executive orders. USCIS made significant strides in addressing processing delays in the following ways: reusing biometrics for 2.5 million applicants since March 2020; reducing the number of pending biometrics appointments from 1.4 million in January 2021 to 155,000 as of the end of September; and fully eliminating the “front-log” of cases awaiting intake processing (which was more than 1 million receipts in January 2021 and was eliminated in July) by expanding staffing and overtime at our Lockbox facilities.

Response to Executive Orders

Breaking Down Barriers: USCIS continues to identify efficiencies and remove barriers to benefits and services pursuant to executive orders (EO) 14012 and 13985 and received over 7,400 comments to its Request for Public Input, “Identifying Barriers Across U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Benefits and Services,” which closed on May 19, 2021. USCIS has already announced a number of updates responsive to comments received, including reverting to prior criteria for interviewing petitioners requesting derivative refugee and asylee status for family members, clarifying that it will consider E and L dependent spouses to be employment authorized incident to status and that H-4, E, and L dependent spouses may qualify for the automatic extension of their employment authorization, and providing deferred action and work authorization for petitioners living in the U.S. with pending, bona fide U nonimmigrant status petitions and who merit a favorable exercise of discretion. USCIS continues to review and consider comments received in response to the Request for Public Input, alongside other feedback received, such as in stakeholder engagements.

Promoting Naturalization: During FY 2021, USCIS welcomed 855,000 new U.S. citizens, including derivative citizens. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the help of video-facilitated interviews and pandemic-safe interview procedures, USCIS continued to process naturalization cases at pre-pandemic levels during FY 2021 and completed approximately 895,000 naturalization applications, conducted more than 52,000 video-facilitated interviews, and hosted more than 40,000 naturalization ceremonies. USCIS continues to promote and improve access to naturalization pursuant to EO 14012 and the Interagency Strategy for Promoting Naturalization, which was released publicly on July 2, 2021. USCIS has taken a number of steps to reduce barriers to naturalization and promote citizenship, including phasing out the 2020 version of the Naturalization Civics Test and reverting back to the 2008 Test on March 1; decreasing the pending naturalization case queue by approximately 14% from January to September 2021; conducting video interviews of overseas military members and qualifying family members, as well as video naturalization ceremonies, with the assistance of the Department of Defense; reusing approximately 838,000 naturalization applicants’ biometrics since March 1; relaunching the Outstanding Americans by Choice initiative; and releasing $10 million to 40 citizenship grantees for FY 2022.

Public Charge: DHS published the Public Charge Vacatur Final Rule in the Federal Register on March 15, 2021, which removed the regulatory provisions promulgated by the 2019 Public Charge Final Rule that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated on March 9. USCIS released a letter to interagency partners on April 12, seeking their support in communicating to the public that the 2019 Public Charge Rule is no longer in effect. On Aug. 23, USCIS published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to seek broad public feedback on key considerations associated with the public charge ground of inadmissibility that will help with the development of a future regulatory proposal. As announced in the ANPRM, USCIS conducted a listening session for the general public on public charge on Sept. 14. Resources on public charge, including questions and answers, are available on our website. USCIS hopes to issue its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on public charge in the near future.

U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) Improvements: USCIS continues to work with the Department of State (DOS) to take steps to improve the efficacy, integrity, security and transparency of the USRAP pursuant to EO 14013.

Family Reunification Task Force: USCIS continues to serve on the Family Reunification Task Force and established a parole process and approved approximately 100 individuals for parole during FY 2021 to help reunify families separated by the prior administration’s Zero-Tolerance and related policies.

Expansion of Lawful Pathways from Central America: USCIS and DOS reinstituted and expanded the Central American Minors Refugee and Parole Program (CAM), including the resumption of interviews. In Phase One, USCIS and DOS began processing eligible applications that were closed when the CAM program was terminated in January 2018. In Phase Two, eligibility criteria were expanded for certain U.S. based individuals—to include legal guardians in qualifying categories (such as lawful permanent residence, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), parolees, deferred action, Deferred Enforced Departure, or withholding of removal), and parents or legal guardians with a pending asylum application or petition for U nonimmigrant status—to apply for their children to access the CAM program.

Humanitarian Programs

Operation Allies Welcome: USCIS set up temporary field offices and mobile biometrics processing stations in eight federally approved facilities to process arriving Afghan nationals and family members who assisted the United States in Afghanistan. At these facilities, Afghan nationals applied for employment authorization and have been referred to resettlement services, if they are eligible. USCIS personnel are adjudicating applications for employment authorization and conducting other immigration processing. During FY 2021, USCIS collected biometrics for more than 52,000 individuals and adjudicated more than 28,000 applications for employment authorization.

Asylum Processing: This past year, USCIS completed approximately 39,000 affirmative asylum cases, 44,000 credible fear determinations, and more than 4,400 reasonable fear determinations. On Aug. 2, 2021, USCIS opened a new asylum office in Tampa, Fla., in response to an increasing asylum workload in Florida.

Adjudication by Asylum Officers of Protection Claims after Positive Credible Fear Determinations: On Aug. 20, 2021, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published that would amend regulations so that individuals in expedited removal who are found to have a credible fear of persecution or torture could have their claims for asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture initially adjudicated by a USCIS asylum officer through a nonadversarial proceeding, rather than in immigration court by an immigration judge. If implemented, this rule would allow for more efficient adjudication of the protection claims of individuals who establish a credible fear while in the expedited removal process, while ensuring fairness and safeguarding due process. The 60-day public comment period ended on Oct. 19.

Refugee Interviews: USCIS expanded its capacity to conduct certain refugee applicant interviews remotely using video-teleconferencing, which enabled USCIS to mitigate the impact of COVID-19-related restrictions on international travel for much of the year. USCIS also deployed officers to 12 overseas locations to conduct in-person initial refugee interviews or to provide support for video interviews conducted remotely from the United States. USCIS interviewed approximately 6,600 refugee applicants in person and over 3,300 refugee applicants remotely in 23 countries.

Temporary Protected Status: In FY 2021, USCIS began accepting applications and renewals for TPS under new and/or extended designations for South Sudan, Burma, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Haiti. On July 21, 2021, USCIS publicly launched online filing for initial TPS registration applications for Burma, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. On Aug. 3, when DHS published the designation of Haiti for TPS for 18 months in the Federal Register, USCIS made online filing available for initial TPS registrations. On Aug. 4, DHS announced the extension of the initial registration periods from 180 days to 18 months for initial applicants under the TPS designations for Venezuela, Syria and Burma, similar to the same-length initial registration periods in place regarding applicants from other countries, such as Haiti.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): Since DACA began in 2012, USCIS has approved approximately 835,000 requests for initial DACA and over 2.3 million requests for renewal of DACA, as of September 30, 2021. The median processing time for DACA renewals and related employment authorization applications through September 30, was approximately 54 days. On Sept. 28, DHS published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would preserve and fortify the DACA policy, with a 60-day public comment period that closed on November 29. If finalized as proposed, the rule would codify the existing DACA policy with a few limited changes.

U Nonimmigrant Bona Fide Determination Process: USCIS announced the U Nonimmigrant Bona Fide Determination Process on June 14, 2021, to address increases in the volume of U nonimmigrant petitions and a growing number of cases awaiting placement on the waiting list or final adjudication. With this initiative, USCIS will be able to provide efficient reviews of U visa petitions and provide work authorization and deferred action to victims of crime in a timelier manner.

Increased Public Engagement

USCIS hosts public engagements on local and national levels involving our community relations officers and subject matter experts. In March 2021, we conducted an agency-wide review of public engagement to reinvigorate our outreach efforts. The review identified key priorities and ways to increase engagement opportunities.

During FY 2021, USCIS adapted to a virtual engagement environment and had record numbers of attendees for these events.

USCIS held more than 2,000 virtual engagements with approximately 74,000 attendees, including 2,069 local engagements and 47 engagements at the national level.

USCIS hosts engagements in English, Spanish, and other languages including Arabic, Haitian Creole, Mandarin, Dari, and Urdu.

We covered more than 20 topics, including citizenship/naturalization, online filing, TPS, public charge, avoiding immigration scams, Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF), family-based petitions, business immigration, and COVID-19 visitor procedures for local offices.

Online Filing and Tools

The agency’s transition from paper applications to a fully digital filing and adjudication experience continues to be an important priority for USCIS. Consequently, USCIS continues to expand our online filing capabilities.

USCIS has continued to expand and enhance the self-help tools available to applicants online and through the agency’s Contact Center with the goal of providing more efficient, timely service.

Through continued outreach and promotion, the number of myUSCIS online accounts grew from 6.1 million in FY 2020 to 9 million in FY 2021, a growth rate of 48%.

In FY 2021, approximately 1,210,700 applications were filed online, a 2.3% increase from the 1,184,000 filed in FY 2020.

In FY 2021, USCIS added two forms for electronic filing:

Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status; and

Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, for:

Temporary Protected Status applicants seeking employment authorization who have an approved form I-821 (a)(12) or a pending form I-821 (c)(19); and

F-1 students seeking optional practical training (OPT) if they request employment authorization under one of these categories: (c)(3)(A) – Pre-Completion OPT; (c)(3)(B) – Post-Completion OPT; and (c)(3)(C) – 24-Month Extension of OPT for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students.

Increased Data Transparency

USCIS has increased data transparency and availability of new and expanded quarterly reports continues to be an important priority for the agency.

USCIS has created new quarterly reports for benefit programs, including LRIF that include reporting on receipts broken down by state, gender, as well as fee waiver information.

For FY 2022, USCIS will be launching a new quarterly report for TPS that includes receipts and approvals for all countries, including new designations from 2021 such as Venezuela and Haiti.

As part of the efforts to increase naturalization promotion and outreach, USCIS also launched a new webpage outlining key statistics around naturalization highlighting citizenship accomplishment over the last few fiscal years.

Somali Community loses faith leader

Originally Posted by: , December 25, 2021

By Okon Ekpenyong

As investigations continued into the missing Somalian American Imam, Mohammed Hassan Adam, the Columbus Police Department has confirmed that the body found inside a missing yellow van was that of the “missing” Imam of Masjid Abuu Hurira in Columbus, Ohio.

Meanwhile, the Somali community is offering $10,000 to anyone that could lead to solving the case.

Columbus Division of Police Deputy Chief Tim Becker provided updates on the missing yellow van reported “missing” on Christmas Eve off Windsor Avenue and 17th street.

Dr. Mohammed Hassan Adam was last seen on Wednesday, December 22, 2021, around 6 pm, after leaving Al Huraira Mosque, where he was the Imaam.

A missing person report was not filed until Thursday when families, friends, colleagues, and community members could not reach him after trying for several hours. Community leaders then held a press conference at Abu Huraya Mosque Imam in Columbus around 11:30 am on Friday, December 24, 2021, asking for public help.

At a briefing, Deputy Chief Tim Becker said, “we discovered a body deceased in a wooded area and a vehicle, and homicide detectives are on scene. The coroner’s office will be here, processing this as a homicide investigation. This is in conjunction with a missing person investigation started by Columbus Police on December 23, 2021, and they have been tremendous community support.”

Chief Becker added that volunteers and members of the Somalian Community spotted the vehicle and reported it to the authorities.

Hiiraan Online, a well-known Somalian online newspaper, stated that sources closed to the magazine did confirm that Dr. Hassan, a former respiratory therapist at the Ohio State University, was probably a victim and a hostage of an unknown group of a gang.

The source added that those who targeted the Imaam tried using their victim’s credit or bank cards, but in this case, it was declined. At one point, the individuals called from Hassan’s phone requesting money. Authorities could not confirm this report because it is still an active investigation.

“Today, the Somalian-Americans have lost “a great friend” faith leaders and colleagues. I’m confident that everybody that knew Dr. Hassan will agree that he will be greatly missed in our community,” former candidate for the Columbus Public School Engr Mohamed Farah said.

Hassan was a husband, father, businessman, respected faith leader, mental health advocate coach, and graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in respiratory therapy.

Dr. Hassan often appeared on “Shaaciye TV,” a Somalian Broadcasting and media production company based in Columbus, touching on all topics, but addressing mental health in the community was one of his crucial concentrations.

“We as faith leaders are ready to stand by and support his family and our community in Ohio by bringing the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice,” Somalian Community member Burhan Ahmed said.

Ohio Ethio-Eritrean Americans plan #NoMore rally January 4

Originally Posted by: , December 29, 2021

The Ethio-Eritrean communities of Ohio will stage a rally on January 4, 2022, in solidarity with the #NoMore Movement to stop and draw international attention to the ongoing armed conflict in Ethiopia at the State Capitol Square in Columbus, Ohio, with participants expected to converge at Goodale Park beginning at 9 am.

A spokesperson for the rally in Columbus, Ohio Tsemere Desta said ‘the #NoMore movement is an international grassroots movement addressing the ongoing conflict within the country of Ethiopia and the international media coverage of this conflict. This conflict involves the legitimately elected government of Ethiopia and the separatist Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) organization.”

“We encourage our fellow Ohioans and our fellow Americans to join us as we embrace the truth and say NO MORE to false narratives, lies, and deception that have traumatized innocent Ethiopians and Eritreans.”

Tsemere said that “the NoMore rally on January 4th in Columbus, Ohio along with others being held in major cities across the world will look to dispel the lies perpetrated by the TPLF organization and will shed light on the truth.”

“We encourage the U.S. to rethink its stance on the conflict and revisit its relationship with the Ethiopian government and its people. We encourage the international media to cover this conflict in an unbiased way, instead of feeding into and perpetrating false narratives being spread by the TPLF organization and its accomplices.”

The #NoMore campaign was created by a coalition of Ethiopian and Eritrean activists led by former Al Jazeera and CBS journalist Hermela Aregawi. Its central objective is to oppose the ongoing Western media disinformation campaign, Western economic warfare, diplomatic propaganda, and military interventions in Africa in general, and the “Horn of Africa” in particular.

Firefighters 4 Kids partners with NBC4

Originally Posted by: , December 15, 2021

By Okon Ekpenyong

For 43 years, NBC4 has partnered with Firefighters 4 Kids to make miracles happen all year round, especially during the holiday season. Generally, they put together quarterly and annual events like a toy drive to collect toys for the neighborhood children.

Firefighters 4 Kids began in 1977, and Mike Mullin, a Columbus Firefighter, noticed a need for it, and that’s how the vision started.

The New American Magazine caught up with the organizers of this year’s Firefighters 4 Kids toy drive at CAS (Empowering Innovation and Scientific Discoveries) headquarters in Columbus.

Josh Combs is the Creative Service Director at NBC4 and has been with the station for five years. Combs spoke to the New Americans Magazine about this year’s Firefighters 4 Kids Toy Drive.

How it all started:

It is the first year doing it at CAS, typically the last 43 years; we’ve had it at NBC4 located at 3165 Olentangy River Road and other locations. But this year, due to the Pandemic, we wanted to be outside in an area where people could spread out. They passed 525 cars within two and a half hours around 2:30 pm; it started at noon and ended at 4 pm.

CAS down the road from the station partnered up with NBC4 allowing this year’s toy drive to be at their campus, showcasing their commitment to the community. CAS and the station have teamed up for other events in the past, but it is the first year that the station, CAS, and Columbus Division of Fire are teaming up for the toy drive.

Relationship with New Americans Community:

Firefighters 4 Kids has a long history of delivering toys to kids across Central Ohio to make them feel the love on Christmas Day. Central Ohio is a giving community, and that was on display today. It will all manifest itself to kids across the district on Christmas morning.

Drop off locations:

Dec. 12th-24th (Christmas Eve) anyone wanting to donate a physical gift or unwrapped items can drop it off at any CME Credit unions or Franklin County Fire Stations. An individual can also visit the NBC4 website, and there’s a link to firefighters 4 Kids if you wish to donate online. It has been a great event, and this is what Central Ohio is all about, and it is just really a blessing to witness it all.

CAS staff member:

Barb Fleeter is a staff member at CAS as a Computer Scientist. They provide chemical researches and beyond chemistry in the scientific world.

“We are on the first shift doing the cheering, especially when there are cars lining up, we pump up the crowds. When our required “shift” is over, we are anxious to head back to the staging here to see how many toys are out there.”

Firefighters 4 Kids:

Doug Smith retired as battalion chief for the Columbus Division of Fire six years ago and was with the department for thirty-five years. Chief Smith started volunteering with the organization 25 years ago.

“We’ve been partnering with the station since the organization started. We still have the same toys to start it off from two years ago, but we are running thin, so today’s donations will help out while getting us back to where we need to be, indeed. It is, however, our first season with CAS, and we are delighted with this location. CAS staff are very engaging with everybody, and hopefully, we can continue to work with them.”

Today’s Toy drive will stay in Central Ohio and focus more on helping Central Ohio families. Once all of the toys are collected, it heads to the organization’s warehouse, and come Christmas let the joy begin.

If the organization receives cash donations, they buy large balk of toys/gifts throughout the year. Visit their website at https://www.firefighters4kids.com/ to see how you can help.

ELECTIONS IN ‘ELECTION OFF-YEAR’?

ELECTIONS IN ‘ELECTION OFF-YEAR’?

The common notion about elections is that they are a free ground for politicking. Politicking in this sense would refer to politics of politicians or call it politicians’ politics. The kind of politics where slander, badmouthing, ‘pull him down – PhD’ and every other crookery means, are permissible, so long as they lead you to the race’s finish point on the first spot. These are the traits that make elections noisy – some would say worthy of the name.

But find out what a huge portion of the electorate consider to be elections – elections to them are presidential, legislative and to an extent, judiciary. When these are not happening, it is an ‘election off-year’, as they would put it. It is considered so because the ‘election off-year’ is void of loud-speaking out-door campaign trails, audience-pulling TV debates only comparable to mega entertainment content and social media posts that result in fierce political debacles.   

Curiously, but unfortunately, what the electorate does not seen to consider as elections are the race to the school boards and to an extent, the one to the councils. Little doubt that of the 876,000 registered voters in Franklin County, Ohio, only 3% of have turned out for early voting in the 2021 general elections, according to reports. Yet, the importance of education and local administration cannot be overemphasized, making school board and municipal elections the most important races. Needless to mention that education and a good one contributes to development and how a community gets stronger when its local administration is effective.

And so come Tuesday, November 2, 2021, voters in Franklin County join their counterparts in other counties, the rest of Ohio and the United States, to select the people who will run their school boards and councils. Polling kicks off at 6:30am at the Franklin County Board of Elections venue, situated at 1700 Morse Road, Columbus, Ohio. Apex 1 Radio will open its airwaves for what will be seen and heard in Ohio and perhaps, other parts of the United States.

Simone Biles and Team perform in Columbus Tuesday, Oct. 19

By Okon Ekpenyong

Olympian Simone Bile, with her teammates, including Jordan Chiles will be performing Tuesday, October 19, 2021, in the ‘Gold Over America Tour’ at the Columbus Nationwide Arena.

“Gold Over America” is a celebration of female athletes combining gymnastics and pop music, showcasing the beauty and power of gymnastics, according to the website.

Other gymnasts in the tour include Jade Carey, Jordan Chiles, and Grace McCallum, and French Olympian Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos.

Biles has 32 Olympic and World Championship medals, making her the most decorated gymnast to date. During the 2020 Olympics in July of 2021, Simone did not compete in the all-around, vault, or floor citing a temporary loss of air balance awareness. Focusing on safety, and mental health were also key concerns in the decision.

Back in 2019, Katelyn Ohashi, the All-American and NCAA National Champion from the UCLA Gymnastics team who went viral for her perfect-10 routine will also be in the lineup. Spectators are expected to see one of the best gymnastics routines that will inspire all.

The tour started on Tuesday, October 8, 2021, in Tucson, Arizona, and will end in Boston on November 7, 2021.

Posted by:  , October 19, 2021