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Nigerian Trade Mission in Vancouver, Canada

25 November 2011 at 01:39 | 1473 views

By Our Correspondent.

Vancouver’s Nigeria Canada Friendship League [NCFL] recently welcomed a 15-member Government-Private Sector Business delegation from Nigeria at a reception at a South-Vancouver Neighborhood House on Victoria Drive.

Represented in the delegation were the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, Department of Petroleum Resources Oil and Gas, House of Representatives, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Swiss Biostadt Ltd., Nother Global Limited, AITO Nigeria Ltd., Hospitals Investment Ltd., De-Otuneyinwa Ventures Ltd., and O.B. Williams Global Ltd.

Earlier, NCFL in collaboration with Canadian Council on Africa held a Nigeria-Canada Business Forum which discussed business opportunities in Nigeria. Also in attendance was Dr. Frank Kense, Vice President, Western Canada, Canadian Council on Africa, and Ms. Mary Ozonwanji of the Nigeria High Commission in Ottawa. There were presentations by Canadian Companies working in Nigeria and by Mr. Brian Hughes, the District Manager of Export Development Canada.

At the reception the NCFL Chair, Mr. Larry Elunor welcomed the delegation to Vancouver. He outlined the mission and objectives of NCFL that include the promotion of friendship and positive relationship between Nigeria and Canada with particular reference to commerce, education and cultural understanding. One of NCFL Patrons, Dr. Eni, briefly described some of the experiences of Nigerians in Canada over the past 40 years. He noted that these experiences are common in all major cities and Canadian provinces, having lived and worked in three provinces. He noted the fragmentation of the community across Canada based primarily on ethnic or state allegiance making it difficult for Nigerians to present a united front.

Dr. Eni called the attention of the delegates to a need for better understanding and treatment of Nigerians in the Diaspora who are invited home to contribute their effort, knowledge, and skill in development. The Leader of the delegation, Engr. Mustafa Bello, Executive Secretary and CEO of Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission responded by noting the progress Nigeria is making on a daily basis. He described some related experience in South Africa and other locales but urged continuing optimism as the country develops further. He thanked NCFL and its members for the reception and goodwill. Dr. Odeh Iweh, an NCFL patron presented certificates of membership to the delegation.

On October 15, 2011, the Nigeria Canada Friendship League [NCFL] undertook a dialogue on African Literature at Buchannan Hall, the University of British Columbia in collaboration with The African Awareness Initiative of British Columbia, the Vanguard Magazine, and Africar-Canada Television. The featured guest from the United States was Dr. Ngozi Achebe, a physician novelist. Dr. Ngozi Achebe discussed her current novel “Onaedo: The Blacksmith’s Daughter."

A Nigerian UBC Professor of French Language, Dr. Gloria Miller, chaired the occasion. The panel of discussants included the Canadian author Ms. June Hutton who wrote the novel, “Underground”, Dr. Charles Quist-Adade of Kwantlen Polytechnic University and President of Ghana Association of British Columbia, Juliae Okot Bitek author of "The Dry Season and Dr. Miller of the University of British Columbia. Dr. Achebe, who is the niece of the world-renowned novelist Chinua Achebe [“Things fall Apart” and “No Longer at Ease”], provided a synopsis of her current Novel “Onaedo: The Blacksmith’s Daughter” and discussed its inspiration from the Nigeria-Biafra War.

The Chair of NCFL Mr. Larry Elunor welcomed participants and provided a summary of Nigeria’s presence in the world, its achievements and challenges. The panel concluded that the state of African Literature is robust, alive and well. The contributions of African Literature continue to educate the world about the continent. The NCFL Secretary Mr. Chinedu Ofong and a representative of the Africa Awareness Initiative, offered the closing remarks. Dr. Eni hosted a wine and cheese get-together at his residence for Dr. Ngozi Achebe a day before the dialogue that was also attended by representatives from the Writers Association of British Columbia.

In November, 2011, the Nigeria Canada Friendship League [NCFL] also hosted a brief visit to Vancouver from the Permanent Secretary, Nigeria Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. (Dr.) Martin Uhomoibhi, his Director of Planning and Statistics Mr. Omoigiade, and his Personal Assistant Mr. Abhulimen Ogun. Ambassador (Dr.) Uhomoibhi had recently concluded a visit to Australia for the Commonwealth meeting of Heads of State. During his brief visit, the Permanent Secretary shared information with NCFL on the activities of his Ministry, the challenges of Nigeria in international relations, and the way forward. He is optimistic about the future of Nigeria in the world and hoped that qualified Nigerians abroad could consider returning home to help in Nigeria’s further development.

He also heard from those present about some of the challenges Nigerians encounter in the Diaspora and at home. Dr Odeh Iweh shared his experience as a Nigerian living, getting educated and working in France. Dr. Eni, a patron of NCFL, called the Permanent Secretary’s attention for a need to establish a website that updates Nigeria’s situation on the world stage as a counter to the “Country Situation” information regularly updated by the United States and Canada for travelers to Nigeria. He also related his experience as a Visiting Professor in 2007/08 at the University of Nigeria at the invitation of the National Universities Commission especially regarding the conditions that govern such invitations.

Dr. Eni, who will soon return to Sierra Leone as an Adviser to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation indicated that he would have opted for Nigeria under a different circumstance. The Chair and Secretary of NCFL Mr. Larry Elunor and Mr. Chinedu Ofong welcomed Ambassador (Dr.) Uhomoibhi to Vancouver and expressed the wish that a repeat visit may be necessary. The long standing issue of a Nigerian Consulate in British Columbia was discussed given that many African countries of smaller size and meager resource-base have established honorary consulates in the province. The Permanent Secretary, who desires to meet Nigerians during his travels, took notice of several matters that were discussed. Upon his return to Nigeria, Dr. Uhomoibhi has since sent a message of appreciation to Mr. Larry Elunor, Chair and members of NCFL .

Consistent with the Mission to promote cross-national friendship and cultural understanding, the League’s Chair Mr. Larry Elunor was invited to speak to a diverse gathering of interest groups at Surrey Municipal Council Hall. His dialogue with the Mayor, Ms. Dianne Watts and other representatives was useful in furthering close and positive relationships in the municipality. The League has also been invited to participate at a Burnaby Black History Month activity in February 2012.

NCFL chair Larry Elunor and Surrey mayor Dianne Watts. Top photo: Some members of NCFL and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador (Dr.) Uhomoibhi at Vancouver International Airport.