By RUKAYAT MOISEMHE
LAGOS- Lagos and Ondo state governments have urged Russian businesses and Nigerians in the Diaspora to invest in promising sectors of the country to spur development, increase revenue and boost job creation.
They spoke at a business gathering organised by the Nigerian Diaspora Organisation, Russia and a group of private Nigerian entrepreneurs in Russia on Wednesday night in Lagos.
Mr Jermaine Sanwo-Olu, Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora and Foreign Relations to the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, described Lagos as the most diaspora-friendly state and the gateway city between the Diaspora and Nigeria.
Jermaine said that in line with the Sanwo-Olu administration’s objective to make the state a 21st century economy, rapid infrastructural development was being carried out.
He pledged the government’s commitment to continuously provide new ways to support businesses in the state and those seeking to come in.
“Lagos is the safest city, most accommodating city in Nigeria and a place where those in the Diaspora see as a second home.
“Lagos encourages diasporian businesses to come back home and support the nation’s economy.
“We would help them register their businesses with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), give some grants and support businesses owned by women and youths via the state business fund,” he said.
Prince Boye Ologbese, Commissioner for Regional Integration and Diaspora Relations, Ondo State, expressed the state’s willingness to change the narrative from a civil servant state to a business driven one.
Ologbese noted that the state currently ranked eigth in the country’s ease of doing business agenda and identified with the diasporian community, saying their contributions was critical to transforming the state faster.
He stated that opportunities in the state existed in areas of mining and tourism; which was on the forefront of the Governor Rotimi Akeredolu agenda.
“We want to design Ondo to become the business hub of the Southwest leveraging technology and we are trying to build the Diaspora city with 24 hours electricity and better security.
“Plans to build the Ondo Deep Seaport are underway and investors are on ground to key into the potential to further create employment and balance foreign exchange and trade,” he said.
Mr Sampson Uwem-Edimo, President, Nigerian Diaspora Organisation, Russia (NIDO Russia), said the event serves to make Nigerians in the Diaspora to understand the need to look back home to contribute economically to the country.
Umem-Edimo said the event would gather and pitch representatives of government and private businesses in Nigeria, with potential investors from Nigerians in Russia willing to invest substantial amount of their money currently lying fallow.
He noted that trade relations between Nigerian and Russia in 2021 was a little under $900 million which was quite low with exports to Russia from Nigeria less than $38 million.
He said that increasing investments in Nigeria meant more jobs and taxes for the government and urged government to support the private sector more to make businesses more comfortable in the country.
“We want to make Nigerians living in Russia to corporate in areas of agriculture and other sectors which would be shipped back to Russia.
“In spite of the challenges the country is facing, it is important for those in the Diaspora to develop properties, businesses in Nigeria seeing that they have no other country.
“Nigerians must always think of putting something home so that if something happens, they always have home to run back to just as at the beginning the Russia-Ukraine war.
“We are also working with the Russians themselves and have started processes to bring them on board with regards to investments in the country.
“A Russian trade mission to Nigeria is in the offing this year and we will take it from there,” he said.
Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman, Nigerian in Diaspora Commission, pledged to ensure the success of the businesses of the diasporian community in Nigeria.
She noted that there were lots of opportunities in Nigeria and said Russia was looking to Africa for investments with Nigeria as the best investment destination.
“Nigeria has its challenges not doubt but we have the population, resources and skills to make it through.
“We must stop demarketing ourselves to ensure lots of investments come into the country as Nigerians are the ones to develop the country at the end of the day.
“Those in the Diaspora are also encouraged to come back home and vote,” she said.(NAN)