The United States Consul General, John Bray has commended the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike for putting an end to militancy and also bringing pipeline vandalism to zero level in the state.
Bray also said that Rivers State would be safer and preferred destination for investors soonest, if election violence was put in check.
The Consul General stated this, yesterday, when he visited Belema Oil on the sidelines of the second edition of the two-day Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) Conference of Emerging Entrepreneurs organised for super young entrepreneurs at the Institute of Petroleum Studies (IPS), University of Port Harcourt.
Bray noted that Nigeria was going into a very serious political period in its history as the momentum for the 2019 general elections gathers steam.
He said that the months ahead would test the ability and capacity of Nigerians to overcome the many challenges that the 2019 elections may throw up.
The consul general counselled the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike to ensure free, fair, transparent and non-violent elections in the state as a veritable means of attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs) to the state, adding that the world was waiting to see this achieved in Rivers State.
“When I was speaking with Governor Nyesom Wike last night, I said ‘if you want investors to come, let’s have free, fair, transparent and non-violent elections in Rivers State. Let the world see that’.”
Bray noted that some of the most terrible cases of election violence in the past were reported in Rivers State, adding that if this negative notion about the state changes, then investors may be willing to come back to the state to do business.
The US consul general said that by 2030, Nigeria was going to be one of the countries with the highest rate of unemployed youth based on available statistics, adding that what was important in the lives of the people of Rivers State, especially the youth and graduates was how and where to secure meaningful employment to withstand the stress of overpopulation.
He charged Nigerians to turn their challenges into opportunities that would better their lives, family members and the society at large.
Meanwhile, the United States Government has stated that only Nigerians have solutions to the avalanche of challenges confronting Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, insisting that the United States has no solution to Nigeria’s problems.
Speaking during the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) second edition of the Conference for Emerging Entrepreneurs at the Institute of Petroleum Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Choba, yesterday, the Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate, Lagos, Darcy Zotter noted that those looking up to the United States for solution to Nigeria’s problems were missing the point, as according to her, Nigerians hold the key to all the challenges besetting the country.
She stated further that Nigeria has all its takes to have a positive and progressive future, adding that all that was required was to put the right tools, skills and ideas in place.
“As a foreigner, people always ask how do I feel about the future of Nigeria in terms of security challenges and economic down turn, among others, but we believe that with the right tools in place, Nigeria has a positive future.”
According to Zotter, “when people try to point out or remind me of the negative things about Nigeria and Nigerians, I refuse to accept or agree with them; rather I prefer the positive sides of Nigeria and Nigerians.”
She explained that the American Consulate was training emerging entrepreneurs from Nigeria because the United States sees huge potentials in Nigeria and Nigerians.
Zotter pointed out that America believes that with the right tools and skills, Nigeria has a bright future, and disclosed that the success story of the first edition of the conference held in Lagos influenced the decision to replicate the conference in Port Harcourt.
She said with the success story of last year’s training, the consulate has confidence that it could work with the right partner to successfully raise entrepreneurs.
“The United States and Nigeria have a long standing relationship and the position of American Government is to celebrate Nigeria’s economic potentials as well as amplify her potentials,” she noted.
Also speaking, the US Consul General, John Bray assured the young entrepreneurs at the two-day training programme of the support of the US Government to enable them build the networks needed to launch their businesses.
Bray also noted that there was growing evidence that entrepreneurs the world over were drivers of job growth, either by creating micro, small or medium enterprises, adding that entrepreneurs contribute to creating jobs and expanding economic opportunities.
He emphasized that since the launch of YALI in 2010, it has been investing in the next generation of African leaders in business, government and civil society.
“After being aware of the ongoing number of people in Africa, the Department of State decided to commit significant resources in order to enhance African youth’s leadership skills and bolster entrepreneurship.”
He, therefore, charged “the super young entrepreneurs to brace up to the yielding entrepreneurial trend, by dreaming big, explore, discover and to do more, adding that they were assets to Nigeria as well as stakeholders and creators of Nigeria’s future.
In his remarks, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike said his government has provided conducive environment for entrepreneurial motivations in the state.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo, the governor said through its Microfinance Agency and the Ministry of Women Affairs, Rivers State Government was providing soft loans to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).
He said the state government has also provided interest-free government-backed bank loans to 25 private medical institutions, stressing that the government was also harmonising taxes in the state to provide an enabling environment for growth and stability of enterprises.
According to him, the state government has approved a Rivjobs Project, aimed at tackling the prevalent challenges organizations face in finding quality talents to recruit, while job seekers find it difficult to get notification on job openings within the state.
The platform the governor said, would also provide online training that exposes our youth to entrepreneurial skills, stressing that government have also approved the development and launch of Rivers Creek Tech, to serve as a habitat to support tech entrepreneurship and innovation.
Earlier in her remarks, founder of the Field of Skills and Dreams VTE Academy, Ms Omawale Ogunrinde said her organisation has a verifiable success story as the academy builds businesses that support the family and communities.
She said that products of the conference have become employers of labour because entrepreneurship was all about knowing how to generate wealth and to solve problems.
The Tide reports participating 120 emerging entrepreneurs were selected from the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Network members across Nigeria.
The YALI Network in Nigeria has more than 150,000 registered members who have access to free online courses and events to enhance their skills and knowledge.
Resource persons at the conference include Tonye Cole of Sahara Group; Stella Okoli of Emzor Pharmaceuticals; Zizi Cardow, an award winning designer, Iyin Aboyeji of Andela, among others.