|A cross section of participants at the event|
On Monday May 18th, 2015, the Nigerian-American Leadership Council hosted a successful gathering of experts at the Rayburn Building of the US Congress; tagged “Nigeria 2015, Beyond the Ballot.” The Event was Co-sponsored by Office of US Congressman Chris Smith, Chairman Africa-Sub-Committee, and the Office of US Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee.
On Governance, Defense, and Human Rights
The event featured analysis of viable policy trajectories for the incoming Buhari presidency. US Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, who is also co-chair of the Nigeria Caucus at the US Congress, commended the Nigerian-American Leadership Council (NALC) for all the Council’s laudable initiatives, which includes ensuring good governance in Nigeria, and ensuring cordial US-Nigerian bilateral relations. Congresswoman Jackson-Lee, extolled the great potentials and opportunities Nigeria has, to deliver service-driven governance, including the security of women, children, and the vulnerable. The US Congresswoman spoke passionately about the still missing “Chibok Girls” who were kidnapped about one year ago by the extremist group Boko Haram.
Other remarks included a presentation by the Africa Sub-Committee of the US Congress, represented by Greg Simpkins. Simpkins reiterated that the incoming new administration in Nigeria, must take visible appreciable steps to shake-off poor governance and corruption.
Other panelists included Admiral Donald Loren, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense who’s remarks centered on regional security in Africa, containing the fluid security situation in Northeastern Nigeria, and maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. Prof. Edward Oparaoji, a Senior Policy Advisor at the Nigerian-American Leadership Council, discussed the festering regional wounds and ethnic distrusts, which were reflected in the last election. Prof. Oparaoji believed that true progress in Nigeria will require addressing constitutional inequities in Nigeria, as currently constituted.
On the Economy, Technology, Human Development
Kayode Tani-Olu, who leads the Government Relations unit at the Council, as well as the Council’s Technology/ICT Advisor, analyzed technology trends that will play a prominent role in Nigeria’s new economy. As an expert in “Cloud” technology, Tani-Olu declared that data storage and traditional computing have become moribund since the advent of “Cloud” technology.
Tani-Olu stated that Cloud technology now allows for “Apps” to be developed by the likes of Nigerian youth in Nigeria; and with data being currently stored in cyberspace, a new cadre of young Nigerians could spur software development and computing creativity from anywhere in the world. According to Tani-Olu, per available data, Information Technology (IT) will eclipse petroleum and hydro-carbons, as Nigeria’s dominant economic engine by 2025.
Tani-Olu also stated that the IT talent in the Nigerian economy when properly harnessed, is equal to or better than the IT talent in India, which is a global hub for IT development today. Tani-Olu emphasized the incoming government’s need to court the IT sector, in order to quickly buildup Nigeria’s IT industry and market it to the world.
On Youth Development and Education
The Executive Director of the Council, Sam Okey Mbonu, in his remarks discussed the role of government in formulating a proactive engagement of youth, through training, skills acquisition, and a near-total revamping of the non-academic educational sector in Nigeria. Mbonu, who is former Commissioner for Housing & Community Development in Maryland, US; as well as an expert in Economic Development; stated that Nigeria cannot meaningfully develop, without a solid base of skilled persons in the blue-collar and related workforce. Mbonu stated that the blue-collar workforce, the IT industry, Entertainment, and Agriculture, will spur entrepreneurship, and grow Nigeria’s economy above and beyond the Oil & Gas industry. Therefore, the aforementioned areas require a necessary and serious look by both the incoming Buhari administration, and the various State governments.
On Diaspora Issues, Diaspora “Foreign Aid”, and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
Prominent leaders of the Nigerian-American Diaspora also emphasized that Nigeria will be in a serious crisis if the diaspora withdraws its “foreign aid” to Nigeria, which averages $22 Billion Dollars annually ($21 Billion in 2014). The Diaspora “Foreign Aid” to Nigeria is even more impactful, when you take into account, that the Diaspora also brings in or facilitates over 75% of all “Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)” into Nigeria; including $85.6 Billion Dollars in 2012.
In-fact, the Nigerian Diaspora should get a red-carpet treatment, anytime they step into Nigeria, and a Diasporan with at least 15 to 25 years of experience living outside Nigeria, should necessarily head the ministry or agency for Diaspora Affairs.
Feedback from Nigerian Government Representatives
The Nigerian government was represented by Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Ade Adefuye; and Nigeria’s Defense Attaché to the United States, Air Commodore Mohammed Yakubu. Ambassador Adefuye extolled the remarkable job the Council has done, including engaging the highest level policy-makers in the United States. The Nigerian Defense Attaché, Air Commodore Yakubu addressed Nigeria’s new defense capabilities, and the increasing capacity to confront internal and regional terrorism, and maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Council expects to engage more robustly with the new government in Nigeria, as the government settles-in to an economic environment of lower expectations; due to the prolonged oil slump.
In this prevailing environment, it is expected that each of the 36 federating states in Nigeria, should formulate its own viable economic development policies, and not depend on monthly handouts or allocations from federal government’s crude oil receipts.
Every state in Nigeria including the northern and southern states have huge potentials of their own, for robust internal revenue. The Nigerian-American Leadership Council expects all the states to engage in robust and competitive performance among themselves. The Council stands ready to partner with the various states to enhance and improve on their productivity.
A full working document resulting from this conference Event would be forwarded to policy-makers in the US and Nigeria, as the new administrations in Nigeria settle in to the arduous task of reforming Nigeria.
The Nigerian-American Leadership Council is the premier pre-eminent Public Policy and Business Advisory Council in the United States; focused entirely on Nigeria. Pursuant to the Council’s “rare access on both sides of the Atlantic”, the Council has fast become the go-to organization in Washington, and in the United States, for all things Nigeria.
C. Goldie, Media Relations,
Nigerian-American Leadership Council (NALC)
1701 Pennsylvania Ave, Suite 300, NW Washington, DC 20006
Tel: 202 379-2848, Ext 101,