Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State has appealed to Nigerians in the diaspora to continue to support their homeland despite security challenges.
“Don’t allow your country to die,” Mr Diri said to his audience.
Mr Diri, who made the appeal at a dinner in his honour, organised by the Consulate General of Nigeria in New York at Nigeria House on Wednesday night, said the insecurity in the country had been exaggerated.
The governor said Nigeria would grow from strength to strength if its citizens, at home and abroad, would do their part by contributing to its development.
He, however, acknowledged that Nigeria had been going through some political and security challenges. Some states in the country were still safe, he said.
“Bayelsa is one of the safest states in Nigeria and that is why we are here in the U.S to attract foreign investments and to showcase our rich cultural heritage.
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“As you know, Bayelsa has been known as a state of oil and gas; as the world is moving to cleaner energy, the state is also positioned for diversity because it has more gas than oil.
“We have abundant gas resources. In fact, we have more gas reserves than crude oil. So, investment opportunities abound in the state,” the governor said.
Beyond oil and gas, Mr Diri said the government had mobilised its citizens to go into farming, saying that rice can be planted in the state three times in a year.
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He said the government had mobilised the people to go into agriculture as a way of moving from oil to the non-oil sector. He called on Nigerians in the diaspora to come and invest in the state.
Lot Egopija, the consul-general of Nigeria in New York, said the state is endowed with enormous natural resources, urging the governor to use his visit to explore investment opportunities in various sectors.
‘Nigeria second-largest U.S export destination in Sub-Saharan Africa’
Mr Egopija said the consulate would continue to serve as the springboard for trade missions to and from Nigeria and liaise with individuals, corporate bodies and organisations seeking to invest in Nigeria.
“Nigeria is the second-largest U.S export destination in Sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S and Nigeria have a bilateral commercial investment dialogue and Nigeria is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
“Similarly, the trade in goods between the two countries totals over 10 billion dollars annually. With these indices, the potential for continued Nigeria-United States economic partnership is huge.
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“The Nigerian Missions in the U.S are committed to building lasting partnerships that would stimulate, sustain and deepen Nigerian-American relations,” he said.
Also speaking, the Nigeria Permanent Representative to the UN, Tijjani Bande, appreciated the governor for the initiative of embarking on a cultural and trade mission to the U.S.
The President of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), New York chapter, Bobby Digi, in his goodwill message, thanked the leadership of the consulate for providing the platform to collaborate.
The dinner was attended by some leaders of Nigerian associations in the U.S. and friends of Nigerians, including Yinka Dansalami, chairman, Board of the Organisation for the Advancement of Nigerians, and Bolade Sobola, president of UN Staff Recreation Club Nigeria, among others.