Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Nigeria: FG's Renewed Partnership With Poland Will Yield Great Results ? Amb. Gimba

Through concerted efforts by the Nigerian Embassy in Poland and the Polish Embassy in Nigeria, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was in Nigeria last week to not only cement existing ties with Nigeria but also help boost business between the two countries.
With a delegation that included 35 of the country's most notable businessmen, Poland and Nigeria signed three agreements that are set to launch the two nations into new business environments which Nigeria's Ambassador to Poland, Dr Samuel Awodi Gimba, optimises will produce favourable results within a short time. Excerpts;

You've been Nigeria's ambassador to Poland for about a year now, how do you find your posting and what are your challenges so far?

Of all the jobs that I have done in my life, this has been both the most interesting and most challenging. Interesting in the sense that you represent the entirety of the Nigerian nation in your mission and posting, and that means that you carry the whole of Nigeria on your back, and you tend to want to promote this milieu of tribes and nationalities and differences and project them as a strong, singular entity.

That for me has been one of the most interesting aspects of this job-that wherever you go, you are seen as a Nigerian, you are not seen as northerner or as a southerner, you are seen as representing the totality and entirety of the Nigerian nation, and this has really been very interesting.

I've sat in conferences where I spoke on behalf of Nigeria, and if anything gives me pride, it is the fact that I belong to the largest black nation in the world, and I can stand and say, I am a Nigerian. In spite of what anybody would say, Nigeria is a great country, a beautiful country, a country of opportunities, has a lot of strength, resources-name it, we are a country that is a potential giant anywhere in the world.

So, for me to have this singular opportunity to represent that country, I think it's a great privilege given to me by God and I want to thank Him for it. On the challenges one might have been facing, I had to take the time to learn the ropes of diplomacy. Diplomacy is not just going coming here to talk anyhow or say anything or acting anyhow. There are rules of the game; there are rules of conduct, so that has been my major challenge-trying to learn the rules of the game.

You spoke about coping with the cultural differences, would you rather have loved an African posting with a similar cultural background?

Getting posted to Poland was clearly an act of God because I never expected to ever get posted to Poland in the first place, but having arrived here I found that the Polish people are some of the best people you can ever interact with-very accommodating, very receptive, very open, and Poland has probably the richest history in the whole of Europe. Their history dates back to over 1,600 years and you can see relics of their history in their towns and villages and even in the culture of the people, you can see that they are a people that are determined to overcome their challenges. That is ingrained in their culture. So, I would not have wished to go anywhere other than Poland. Yes, there is the challenge of weather and so on, but the system also gives you the opportunity to fight those challenges. It is a wonderful experience to be in Poland. How have you used this wonderful experience to impact on relations between the two countries?

First and foremost, I want to say that the wish of any ambassador is to get your head of host government to visit your home country, because that will kick-start a lot of things. With the Polish ambassador in Nigeria, we've been able to work very closely and this culminated in the visit of the prime minister of Poland to Nigeria in the past one week. That visit in itself like I said is going to kick-start a lot of things. We signed about three agreements-the one on strategic dialogue, the one on trade and investment, and the one by the NIPC, there are also agreements that are being looked into, there is one between the University of Jos and ABH University on research and partnerships, we are also looking at one between the Nigerian Institute for Pharmaceutical Development and Research and the pharmaceutical research institute in Poland.

For me, that is the beginning of my work. The fact that the prime minister came to Nigeria with 35 of the best business people in Poland shows the confidence in the Nigerian economy. These 35 are the best of the best business people in Poland and they have shown extreme willingness to invest in the Nigerian economy and in the next few months we are going into partnership with the Polish embassy in Nigeria to work strenuously to provide opportunities for these people to bring in their investments. We are not talking about traders, we are talking about people who are ready to come and build factories in Nigeria, we are talking about people who are ready to have extensions of their companies in Nigeria.

We are looking at a situation where in the next few months we will have concrete investments from Poland to Nigeria and of course when you do that, you are creating employment, you are generating wealth, you are taking out the heat from the system. This is in consonance with the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan. I would want to say that right now, we have a few companies already operating in Nigeria but we hope that by the time we are reporting by this time next year, we would have had many more companies that are cooperating, not depending on government, but bringing in their own money, bringing factories, establishing firms that are outside government so that they would help our economy grow. For me that would be the most satisfying part of my job-that at least in one or two years, I am able to bring in investments to Nigeria. That would be wonderful. In the short time I've stayed in Poland, I've been able to succeed in getting Nigeria to win the presidency of an international organisation called the Community of Democracies.
It is a worldwide organisation recognised by the UN that tends to promote democratic practices in all nations. The headquarters is in Poland, so my mission oversees that organisation. Through the directive of the minister of foreign affairs we marshalled ourselves and we sought to become the president of that organisation beginning from 2015. How would suggest to the Nigerian government to maximise the gains of the visit of the Polish prime minister so it doesn't pass off as just a historical visit?

One of the agreements we signed has to do with strategic dialogue on investment. During the visit certain areas of investment were identified—agriculture, maritime, solid minerals, oil and gas. These specific areas were mentioned and part of the provisions of the agreement was that we should annually have dialogues about opening up these fields both in Nigeria and Poland so in the next few months we are going to cause the Nigerian government and other agencies involved in the dialogue to come over to Poland with our own businessmen, because its business to business.

As you invite Nigerian businessmen to come over to Poland, what advice would you give them to ensure successful ventures?

First, one of the things we would like to tell them is that the Polish people are very industrious, they are very hard working. So the Nigerians must be prepared to be pushed to the limits. When you are dealing with a Polish businessman he never gets tired, so it is not arm-chair discussion, know that you are going to work 18 hours a day just trying to ensure that you get results for your efforts. Secondly, they should be prepared to be very open and sincere.

The Polish people are very sincere, they want somebody that is dependable any day, anytime. One thing Nigerian businessmen should do in relating with Polish businessmen is to ensure that they can be relied upon. Thirdly, they should be willing and ready to invest together with their Polish counterparts in whatever field is identified. I believe these are issues we will explain before then.

Are the Polish racists?

No, not at all. The Polish are not racists. What happened is that they've not had too many interactions with Africans, so they are not too familiar with black people. For example, I come from a village where so many people have never seen a white person, so the day you bring ten white people into that village, the place will almost turn upside down because everyone will come out to look at them. There are individuals in Poland who probably in their lifetime have only seen two or three black people, so here, it is strange to see a black person.

Source: Daily Trust

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