In spite of its challenges, many African countries still look up to Nigeria for guidance, inspiration, and integration, an envoy, John Usanga has said.
Mr Usanga, the Nigeria Ambassador to Guinea Bissau with concurrent accreditation to Cape Verde stated this when he hosted the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed to dinner in Praia, the Cape Verde Capital.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Minister was in Cape Verde for the 64th Conference of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, UNWTO, – Conference for Africa and the second edition of UNWTO Global Tourism Investment Forum.
According to Mr Usanga, Nigeria is a very important country in Africa, with a key role to play in the integration of ECOWAS.
He described Cape Verde as “a virgin territory up for the taking, with the government and people looking up to Nigeria to help them stand.’’
He gave the example of a Nigerian architect, Kunle Adeyemi who designed and constructed a floating music hub in Mindello City in Sao Vicente, one of the Islands in Cape Verde.
The envoy said the unprecedented architectural design in the country was a cynosure while Adeyemi “is well revered” by the government and people of Cape Verde.
Mr Usanga also said Cape Verde “is looking up to Nigeria” for the development of its music and film industry as some private sector operators had been exploring the sector in that country.
He again gave the example of a Nigerian ace movie director and producer, Kunle Afolayan who shot films in the country.
“Cape Verde has become a favourite destination for Nigerians and we have received so many teams from Nigeria all interested in coming to Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau.
“Nigeria is very important to these countries because as we have come to realise, they are looking up to us for guidance and development.
“Some of the things we need to do is to open the space to make it conducive for Nigerians that are here and to those who want to come in for investment.
“It would be of great benefit to have Nigerians come in here and invest freely,’’ he said.
He identified sectors in Cape Verde where Nigerian investors could explore as education, health, technical services, and infrastructure.
Mr Usanga said the Nigerian organised private sector could also explore water treatment ventures “because the water in the Island is salty”, energy provision, and tourism development.
He urged the minister to consider the facilitation of the reactivation of the Bilateral Air Service Agreement between Nigeria and Cape Verde as urgent to enable allow for direct flights between both counties.
“I want to urge that we do not wait for them to start the operations; we can encourage our businessmen to give the operation a chance by launching flights so that more people will be aware of the great potentials in this land,’’ he said.
He praised the minister for the work that he is doing.
“Everything revolved around you and everybody was looking up to you at the sessions.
“Whatever you said carried the day and even in your wisdom some concessions were made for the benefit of other smaller countries and this made me proud as a Nigerian,’’ he said.
The minister thanked the envoy and his wife for going beyond the call of duty to ensure that his stay and that of his team at the conference were successful.
“I want to express my excitement with the way you look at your assignment.
“You are very passionate and determined to let Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau see largely the positive sides of Nigeria and I think that is the right way to go.
“There are no countries without challenges, especially when you talk about a country as big as Nigeria,’’ he said,
The minister said the conference was successful, not just because of the presentations, but also because of some Nigerians who had gone ahead to portray the country in good light.
He thanked Adeyemi and Afolayan for presenting Nigeria in good light.
Mohammed assured that the government would provide the legal framework needed to consolidate the collaboration and cooperation between both countries.