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Boosting US-Nigeria Trade Relations



It is pertinent to note that many entrepreneurs, including members of the Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce in Houston and the Continental Africa Chamber of Commerce in Chicago, attended the forum.

Besides, officials of the U.S. Trade Department, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), among others, also participated in the forum.

Mr Kenny Efunpo, a Nigerian and a board member of Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce, said that Nigerians in Houston should be encouraged to invest in Nigeria. He put their remittances in 2009 at about four million U.S. dollars (about N600 million).

Efunpo, who was the first African President of the African-American Chamber of Commerce from 2004 to 2005, said that some 250,000 Nigerians were living in Houston, adding that 25 per cent of the people were professionals.

Efunpo, who is into oil and gas, said that the remittance figure was extracted from a Western Union’s report.

“You will agree with me that it is a lot of revenue for Nigeria,’’ he said.

He said that in the past, the 75-year-old Chamber had been trying to organise a trade mission to Nigeria to explore the investment opportunities in the country.

“It is very good that Nigeria has taken the initiative to come and see how we can improve the economic, industrial and political situation in the country.

“But the programme was not much publicised in the U.S., especially in Houston. If it was well publicised, more business people would have attended,’’ he said.

Efunpo said that in the next two months, the chamber would be leading a delegation of investors to Nigeria to explore investment opportunities in the construction, housing and real estate sectors.

He noted that the discussions between Nigerian and American businessmen at the forum were “meaningful’’, adding that the forum would foster improved trade and investment relations between the two countries. 

However, some of the forum’s participants attributed the low level of U.S. investments in Nigeria to the bad external image of Nigeria, promoted by the foreign press.

They, therefore, called on the Federal Government to embark on an aggressive image-laundering activity to change the erroneous public perception of Nigeria in the U.S.

For Mr Ademola Dada, the President of the Continental Africa Chamber of Commerce in Illinois, U.S., the forum would help to counter the negative perception of Nigeria created by the foreign media.

“We have to promote many face-to-face meetings like this continually since we cannot influence bad press about Nigeria,’’ he said.

Dr Wale Ajifolokun, Managing Director of Air Cargo and Travel Agency in Chicago, said that Nigeria should strive to “boost its own ego and write its own story its own way.

“If you wait for people to write it for you, they will do that from their own perspectives, which may be wrong,’’ he said.

Ajifolokun said that apart from the challenges of inadequate power supply, bad transportation and insecurity, Nigeria’s bad image had been scaring away potential investors from the country.

Dr Adetunji Oyedele, an exporter, particularly called on the government to address the problems of insecurity and kidnapping in the country.

“The Ministry of Information needs to constantly sell the country to the outside world; a country needs to be sold to the whole world.

“Ironically, the only time they get to know about Nigeria is only when something bad has happened,’’ he said.

For Chief David Olupitan, an international business consultant and co-founder of the 35-year-old Continental Africa Chamber of Commerce, the organisation of such a forum was long overdue.

“It will go a long way in addressing some wrong perceptions about Nigeria,’’ he said.

Olupitan, therefore, called on Nigerian entrepreneurs to promote their products in the U.S. through direct adverts or via such forum.

“Nobody can speak well of you than yourself; we need to start talking and shouting about ourselves and what we are doing,’’ he said.

The U.S. policy makers, however, made some pledges which reflect the prospects of increasing trade and investment with Nigeria.

Ms Julie Carducci, the Deputy Director, U.S. Department of Commerce, said that the department would intensify efforts to assist U.S. companies in finding new markets in Nigeria.

She said that the department supported U.S. companies’ exports to Nigeria, while matchmaking the companies with their Nigerian counterparts.

She, therefore, urged Nigerian companies to work with their U.S. counterparts in efforts to export goods with the required American qualities to the U.S.

Carducci urged Nigerian companies to participate in the trade shows organised in the U.S. to further strengthen their investment opportunities.

The trade shows will take place in Houston, La Vegas, Dallas and New Orleans in August.

“We have in the past supported trade missions to Nigeria. We hope to organise more of such missions to further explore the investment opportunities in the country,’’ she said.

Mary Roberts, the Deputy Director, Office of Trade and Investments in Chicago, welcomed the Nigerian delegation to Chicago, saying: “It is the largest city and centre of commerce for the entire world.

Roberts said that Illinois ranked 5th among the U.S. states concerning exports to Africa, while Nigeria ranked 4th among African countries getting Illinois exports.

Dr Cynthia Fontenet, an American businesswoman, said that the forum was timely, as both countries had a lot to benefit from each other.

She said that the U.S., with its high technology and industrial capacity, could benefit immensely from Nigeria with its enormous human and natural resources.

“This is bridging the gap and this connection with each other in commerce and industry is definitely the key to success,’’ she said.

The U.S.-Nigeria Forum is the outcome of the Trade and Investment Agreement (TIFA), whose objective also include providing a platform for deliberating on how trade opportunities can be explored, while a balance of trade is achieved.

Gov Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, who was represented by the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Dr Emem Wills, said that the government had done a lot in making the state an investors’ haven.

“In the last three years, the state has concentrated on the development of state’s infrastructure, We constructed roads, our Independent Power Supply Project has been completed, we are liaising with the PHCN for distribution,’’ Akpabio said.

The high point of the forum was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), between the Federal Government and the International Trade Centre, Houston, and the Continental Africa Chamber of Commerce, Chicago.  

One of the objectives of the agreement is to improve trade between Nigeria and the U.S., while enhancing value added oil and non-oil exports from Nigeria to the U.S.

The organisations will collaborate with Nigeria in promoting exportable products from Nigeria, under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Nigeria from the U.S.  

All the same, industry operators have consistently harped on the need to improve the country’s infrastructure, especially power, so as to create conducive environment for investors.

However, Mr David Adejuwon, the Acting Director of Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, emphasised that potential investors should not wait for everything to be put in place before deciding to invest.

“If you have to wait for all challenges to go away, the investment space may not be available again,’’ he said.


Grace Yussuf

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Investing In Nyesom Wike: A Story Of Dedication, Sacrifice And Ultimate Loss



In 2015, I made a conscious decision to invest my financial resources, my time, and energy into supporting Nyesom Wike’s gubernatorial campaign. I poured my heart and soul into ensuring Nyesom Wike emerged victorious even at the risk of my personal safety.
Again in 2019, I doubled down on my commitment. I invested a significant amount of money to procure campaign outfits for all twenty-three Local Governments Areas of Rivers State. I spared no expense in supplementing Wike’s election efforts in my own local government, and once again putting myself at great risk to safeguard the fairness and transparency of the electoral process.
However, despite my unwavering loyalty and sacrifices, I found myself abandoned and forgotten by Wike. Throughout his eight-year tenure, he failed to acknowledge my contributions or fulfill his promises and agreements. Even as a former Deputy Governor, Wike denied me my severance benefit.
My investment in Wike’s governorship was not just financial – it was a commitment of passion, dedication, and belief in a better future for Rivers State. Yet, his leadership style of dishonesty, greed, drunkenness and rash abuse of senior citizens brought me nothing but disappointment, misery and losses.
By the grace of God, today I speak not as a victim, but as a hero. I have accepted my losses, and I have moved on. And as I reflect on my experience, I cannot help but urge Wike to do the same and allow peace and development to reign in Rivers State.
Nyesom Wike, when you speak of investing in Governor Sim Fubara’s election, remember those like me who also invested in you. Remember the sacrifices I made, the risks I took, and the promises and agreements you left unfulfilled.
It is time for you, Wike, to let go of the past and allow Governor Sim Fubara the breathing space he needs to lead Rivers State forward. Allow him to focus on the challenges of good governance and the aspirations of the people. Spare him these unwarranted and ill-conceived political manoeuvrings founded on personal agenda and not for general good of Rivers State and her people.
I may have lost my investment on Wike, but I have not lost hope in the future of Rivers State. And together, we will continue to strive for a brighter tomorrow.
Long Live the Governor to Rivers State, Sir Siminialayi Fubara!
Long Live the Good People of Rivers State!!
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
Engr Ikuru is former Deputy Governor of Rivers State.

Tele Ikuru


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Is Okocha A Happy Man Being Perpetual Hireling?



The man Tony Okocha, the devastated tattered ragtag remnant Rivers APC factional, but Caretaker, Chairman, is known for being notoriously a hireling willing to play in the mud just for the pay or settlement. To Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, he did against Chief Nyesom Wike. To Senator Magnus Abe, he did against Rotimi Amaechi. To Chief Nyesom Wike, he did against Magnus Abe. Having maintained such unbefitting character trait, it is not surprising to see him at his demeaned best showing off his tainted skill of grandstanding and loquaciously struggling fruitlessly almost every day to castigate the popular Rivers people’s Governor with very glaring false, bogus and unsubstantiated claims such as:
1. That Governor Fubara is wasting state fund in the name of thanksgiving across 23 Local Government Areas.
2. That Governor Fubara has withheld Local Government funds.
3. That Governor Fubara runs the government without input from the State Executive Council.
4. That nothing is happening in the State with respect to governance.
To the above false claims of Tony Okocha, every reasonable, right thinking and well-meaning Rivers person would effortlessly puncture all as rascality and mendacity taken too far.
Apart from the fact that Governor Siminalayi Fubara had said he is not sponsoring the massive SIMplified Movement Thanksgiving events across the Local Government Areas of the State being organised by elated Rivers people who feel liberated from an era of overbearing and suppressive form of leadership in the State, Tony Okocha should be asked to prove his false claim with indisputable facts and figures. Until then, let Tony Okocha respect himself and learn to keep quiet as an elderly person who is saddled with such a responsible position as Rivers State Representative in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Board. A position that places a huge responsibility on him to ensure that the core objectives of the commission are actualised in the State, by not only ensuring that Rivers State gets its fair share of its dues in terms of projects, programmes and activities, but by synergising with the state government on development matters concerning the state vis-a-vis the responsibilities of NDDC to the State. In summary, the SIMplified Movement is all about a happy and joyful people of Rivers State who have decided to stand and stick together to defend and uphold their common heritage and patrimony. It is a voluntary venture, not sponsored by the government.
To his claim that the Governor has withheld Local Government funds, Mr Tony Okocha should also be asked to prove that with facts and figures and explain why the Governor would do such. More so, what is Tony Okocha’s business, assuming, but not conceding, that a PDP Governor withholds money against PDP-led 23 Local Government authorities? Did Local Government workers across the state complain to Okocha, the meddlesome hireling, an acclaimed APC Caretaker Committee Chairman in Rivers State?
On his ignorant and false claim that the Governor runs the government without input from the state exco, Okocha, the busybody wannabe should explain how he was employed or engaged as the spokesperson of members of the Rivers State Executive Council. He should also tell us his source of information to that effect, if it is not just a proof that he is making himself known as a perpetually irredeemable hireling notoriously good for playing the spoiler’s role.
On Mr Okocha’s assertion, probably, borne out of lack of more convincing lies, that nothing is happening in the State with respect to governance, is sure a proof that the man is only acting a bad and an unsellable script to justify the reward of expected gratifying filthy lucre, which is the compelling reason for condescending so low and evilly so. How else is governance measured, if not by executing meaningful and impactful projects, giving hope, inspiring and putting smiles on the faces of the people with joy of fulfilment in their hearts, both civil servants and everyone living and doing business in the State? Is Okocha blind to see and deaf to hear of the good works of the Governor Fubara led Rivers State Government? Civil servants are happy, teachers are highly elated. Several projects are ongoing. Investors are trooping in. The health sector, education, agriculture, sports have been highly boosted under Governor Fubara-led administration. To Okocha, there’s no governance in the State because patronage of free money is not getting to him from the Governor but from other sources that are likely against the Governor.
Let Tony Okocha weep more. Rivers State is breathing fresh air already and is liberated.
Let Tony Okocha tell us how he has, so far, as Rivers State Representative in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), clearly effected development in the State through the NDDC, and why he lied that there was Cholera outbreak with deaths recorded in Soku in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area with the intent of raking in about ¦ N5billion for non-existent mitigation programmes?
Odike is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Social/New Media .
Bernard C. Idike
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Day Asari-Toru Declared Massive Support For Fubara



Franklin Delano Roosevelt, commonly known as FDR, was an American statesman and politician who served as the 32nd President of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. He was a member of the Democratic Party and is the only United States President to have served more than two terms.
In one of his popular quotes, he said, “The creed of our democracy is that liberty is acquired and kept by men and women who are strong and self-reliant, and possessed of such wisdom as God gives mankind – men and women who are just, and understanding, and generous to others — men and women who are capable of disciplining themselves. For they are the rulers and they must rule themselves.”
This explains the recent gathering of creme la creme of Asari-Toru political gladiators converged at the inauguration of the Simplified Movement, ASALGA chapter to reiterate their unflinching support for the Rivers State Governor, His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara whose mantra revolves around liberation.
The event which took place at the Autograph in Port Harcourt on the 1st of March, 2024, to galvanise strong support for Governor Fubara attracted over 500 members of the Simplified Movement from the Asari-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The gathering of supporters of Governor Fubara’s government, under the umbrella of the Simplified Movement, the ASALGA chapter led by an astute politician, former member of the Federal House of Representatives and two- time member of the Rivers State Executive Council as Commissioner, Chief Hon. Paworiso Samuel Horsfall comprised both the old and young generation political helmsmen drawn from all the 13 Wards of the local government area.
The nerve-““““““wracking gathering had the likes of the 1999 democratic system pioneer Chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Council and former two-time Special Adviser to ex-Governor Nyesom Wike, Hon. Opakirite Mackson Jackreece; former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Adokiye Young-Harry; former member of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Daisy West and former Special Adviser to ex-Governor Nyesom Wike, Chief Hon. Iboroma Norman Wokoma.
Others were the incumbent Vice Chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Council, Hon. (Mrs.) Tekena Wokoma; former Commissioner of the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission, Hon. Dr. Hope Barango; the South-West Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Sule Amachree and the Secretary of the Local Government chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Cladious Princewill; former Chief of Staff of Council, Hon. Ajumogobia West and former Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), ASALGA, Hon. Onari Awo Tariah.
Also present at the event were past caretaker committee chairmen of the Local Government Council including, Hon. Waite Harry, Hon. Dawari Hamilton Ibinabo, Hon. Wright Warmate and former Deputy Mayor of the Port Harcourt City Council, Hon. Adokiye Horsfall amongst others. My humble self belongs to the movement. The list is inexhaustible.
Speaking at the inauguration, the member representing Asari-Toru/Akuku-Toru Federal Constituency and leader of the Asari-Toru political family, Hon. Boma Goodhead assured the people of the commitment of the Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara to extend visible dividends of democracy to the people of ASALGA.
The federal lawmaker who spoke through her representative, Dr. Sule Amachree, said Governor Fubara means well for Rivers people, particularly the people of ASALGA and urged them to remain calm, peaceful and resolute in their support to the administration of the State Governor.
“His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara is the Governor ordained by God to liberate Rivers people from the snares of poverty and oppression. He is God-sent to bring visible and even development to Rivers State and Asari-Toru people are on the top of that agenda of development,” she said.
Hon. Goodhead reiterated her confidence in the capacity of the leader of the Simplified Movement, ASALGA chapter, Chief Hon. Paworiso Samuel Horsfall to mobilise massive support and a huge source of encouragement for the Government of Sir Siminalayi Fubara to succeed.
“I urge you to continue to stand firm with our Governor. Be rest assured that His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara is a man of peace, focused and determined to deliver on the mandate given to him by the people of Rivers State. He will not fail you,” she said.
In his speech, the leader of the ASALGA chapter of the Simplified Movement, Chief Hon. Paworiso Samuel Horsfall described the movement as a child of necessity born out of the hunger of Rivers people for a paradigm shift from oppression to liberation.
“As witnessed across the length and breadth of Rivers State, the Simplified Movement is a child of necessity, born out of the hunger for a paradigm shift from oppression to liberation, with one core objective to promote and defend the interests of Rivers State and her people. It is on this account, we stand as dependable allies giving strong support to the Executive Governor, His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara in his pursuit of peace and commitment to the genuine development of Rivers State.
“It is our position that with the elections come and gone, it is practically a time to face governance and to ensure deliverables of dividends to the people of Rivers State in the atmosphere of peace, security and stability,” he said.
Chief Samuel Horsfall explained that Rivers people saw the leadership qualities needed to achieve the sole objective to genuinely defend and promote the interest of the State in Governor Fubara, hence the spontaneous massive support expressed in the birth of the Simplified Movement.
He recounted avalanche of achievements made by Governor Fubara within six months in office. “We appreciate the Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara for his resilience and determination to make a difference. It is on record and attestable by all, the numerous projects being executed by his administration.
“Such as the ongoing construction of the gigantic Port Harcourt Ring Road project, the 20,000 housing units for low income earners, the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro Unity road, the near completion of the 10km Old Port Harcourt-Bori road, the Emohua-Kalabari road, the 6.5km Woji-Alesa-Refinery link road and the inclusion of the remaining part of the Trans-Kalabari road project in the 2024 budget. “Moreover, the promotion of the State civil servants, first time in history payment of N100,000.00 Christmas bonus to civil servants across board, approval of promotions and implementation of N30,000.00 minimum wage for local government workers and the N4 billion single digit interest loans facility for Small and Medium Scale business operators in Rivers State. All these achievements within six months in office are eloquent testimonies of Governor Fubara to deliberately improve the welfare of Rivers people.
“We are convinced that such a proven great mind and well experienced, tested and trusted administrator/technocrat, Governor Fubara has demonstrated the capacity to deliver effectively the needed democratic dividends to Rivers people. It is on this convention we are gathered here for the umpteenth time to reaffirm our unalloyed support and commitment to his administration,” Chief Samuel Horsfall declared.
He disclosed that the gathering was to put in place citizens mobilisation strategy to forge a collaborative bond with the Governor to foster partnership for the development of ASALGA and the State. He, therefore, advised those he called detractors of Governor Fubara’s administration to desist forthwith and allow the Governor to remain focused in his quest to deliver on his mandate.
“All detractors should desist from further attacks on the Governor and the Chief of Staff, Government House, Rt. Hon. Edison Ehie and allow the Governor to focus on the delivery of the good policies and programmes to Rivers people. We unequivocally condemn attempts by disgruntled Abuja politicians to employ intimidation antics against the former Speaker of the 10th State Assembly and current Chief of Staff, Government House, Rt. Hon. Edison Ehie and others who are standing on the path of justice and good conscience for the collective good of Rivers State.
“We equally urge the Nigerian Police and other security agencies to be discreet in the discharge of their constitutional responsibilities in the State and not to allow themselves to be used by selfish individuals who do not mean well to fuel political crisis in Rivers State.
Chief Samuel Horsfall also commended the federal lawmaker, Hon. Boma Goodhead for her doggedness and resilience in supporting Governor Fubara since the wake of the political crisis in the State.
Several other personalities spoke to express their support to the State Governor and urged the people to ASALGA to maintain their peaceful disposition and remain steadfast in the Simplified Movement to give the state government maximum support to continue to render good governance to Rivers people.
Highlights of the event were the inauguration of the elders and stakeholders of the Simplified Movement for the 13 Wards as well as the executive committee of the movement in Asari-Toru Local Government Area.

Amieyeofori Ibim

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