By Debo Oladimeji
NEW United States (U.S.) Consul-General in Lagos, Jeffrey Hawkins, has said irrespective of the outcome of the November election in his country, Nigeria will continue to be important to the American government.
At a programme to honour some Nigerian firms doing businesses with the U.S. yesterday, Hawkins said the President Barack Obama’s administration would follow-up with its four-point strategy for Africa.
“The President has just come out with a four-point strategy for Africa. Nigeria features very prominently in it. You are aware of the Bi-national Commission between Nigeria and America. I am impressed with the commitment of U.S. and the Nigerian government in making that relationship a success,” he said.
The envoy pledged the readiness of American government to help Nigeria tackle its security challenges.
“There are new challenges coming up particularly in the North of Nigeria. The U.S. is working closely with our Nigerian partners and the government to help address these challenges,” Hawkins said.
The diplomat also expressed satisfaction with the trade relations with Nigeria. “It is impressive when you look at the kind of business exchanges that is going on between Nigeria and the U.S. and the dollar figure that is involved, and the depth of the relationship. It is so impressive. It is great to work in a country where the economy is so developed with so many really great entrepreneurs and businessmen and they are so important to the U.S.,” he said.
Hawkins described Lagos as a dynamic city “with so much happening. Lagos is a huge sprawling city with so much happening. The ambassador and I just went to Akwa Ibom State. We were again impressed by what was going on there. And there is so much laughter and great humour in the country making it so pleasurable to work.”
Hawkins has been working for almost 20 years in the American Foreign Service, serving in Africa in other places.
Also, Rebecca Armand, Commercial Counsellor in the embassy in Lagos, described Nigeria, as the largest market in sub-Saharan Africa, adding that one out of every five Africans is a Nigerian.
She said if Nigeria could get the economy on track and spread the wealth across to its people, the country would be the most powerful country in the sub-Saharan Africa.
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