Dr Nimota Akanbi is the Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinaire of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to The Netherlands. She has led many trade missions to Nigeria and organised several business and investment forum with the aim of attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs) to Nigeria in line with the transformation agenda of the Federal Government. In this interview with KOLAWOLE DANIEL, she speaks on her activities and other issues. Excerpts:
WHAT is heard about some Nigerians living in Europe and other parts of the world is not too good; what is the situation in the Netherlands?
Nigerians are doing great all over the world. We have our doctors, engineers, lawyers and other professionals doing great things all over the globe. The fact that we have a few people who are not doing the right thing does not make all of us bad.
I am a Nigerian and a proud one for that matter. Nigerians in the Netherlands are doing well and I am proud of them. I have always been telling them not to forget their country, that they should always remember that there is no place like home.
What specific things are you doing to make Nigerians in the Netherlands not to forget their root?
We have language school for Nigerians living in the Netherlands. We came up with this idea to encourage our children to be able to speak Nigerian languages. I have also been going round the nooks and crannies of the country to talk to our people on the need to uphold the rich culture of our great country. The same is applicable to our value system.
Why is the embassy organising another business and investment forum and what does the forum intend to achieve?
We are doing this in line with the transformation agenda of the Federal Government. President Goodluck Jonathan is committed to the attraction of Foreign direct investments (FDIs) to Nigeria. Therefore, for us at the Embassy of Nigeria in The Hague, Netherlands, all hands must be on deck to achieve this.
So, what about the forum?
With every sense of modesty, we have been organising investment forums, but the one we are holding between 4 and 7 June this year promises to be bigger. We are doing this in collaboration with The Hague-based Netherlands Council for Trade Promotion and Nigeria-Netherlands Chamber of Commerce.
The 2013 Business and Investment Forum is aimed at re-invigorating and robustly expanding business partnership between Nigerian firms and entrepreneurs and their Dutch counterparts as well as with Dutch companies and firms.
It is aimed at boosting trade and economic relations as well as promoting Dutch investment in Nigeria.
Particular emphasis is being placed on investment and economic cooperation between Nigeria and the Netherlands and among the private sectors of the two countries.
The forum will provide opportunity for Dutch companies and business organisations to negotiate and enter into joint venture or business agreements with their Nigerian counterparts on any area of business interest including power and energy, oil and gas, agriculture, transportation, infrastructure, information and communication technology, mining and solid minerals, marine engineering, manufacturing, building and construction, tourism, entertainment industry and so on.
Have you got assurances from Dutch companies about their full participation in the investment forum?
Sure. Dutch companies have expressed eagerness for closer collaboration with the Nigerian private sector and have, in fact, on their own initiative, undertaken many trade missions to Nigeria. I can assure you that by the grace of God, this forum will feature the largest turnout of Dutch investors that we have ever put together and I am optimistic and convinced that the forum will produce mutually beneficial outcome.
How many Dutch investors are expected to participate in the forum?
We expect about 1,500 Dutch investors. We are expecting about 350 participants from Nigeria. I want to advise participants from Nigeria to apply for visa on time. On our part, at the Embassy of Nigeria in the Netherlands, we shall do what is required of us.
As a country, what lessons do you think Nigeria can learn from the Netherlands?
We have a lot to learn from them and they have a lot to learn from us. But I want to say that they don’t joke with tax. Everybody has to pay his tax, no matter how highly placed or how connected you are. They are using the proceeds of tax to develop their country and I think we can do same in Nigeria.
Nigeria is a great country, all we need to do is to believe in ourselves and support the transformation agenda of the president.
Emphasis should be placed on technical education, science and technology, so that our graduates will not depend solely on government for jobs.