I am happy to welcome you all to Lagos for this 2nd National Committee on Export Promotion Meeting.
The decision of the Federal Government to establish the National Committee on Export Promotion to promote Nigeria’s non-oil export-led economic diversification is a wonderful initiative as our nation can no longer depend on only oil.
As a nation, we must improve our balance of trade. To achieve this we must go back to the basics. From the early history of nations and kingdoms, International Trade has been the basis of the wealth of nations. Wealthy nations export more than they import and they usually have multiple export products. To achieve the status of a wealthy nation, it is obvious and imperative that we must export more.
Speaking of export, in the past two days, we have played host to President Emmanuel Macron of France. As you may all know, President Macron’s first port of call in Lagos was the Afrikan Shrine. We learnt that he has been a lover of Afrobeat music for over a decade and this was at the core of his interests in Nigeria. What does that tell us?
For me, it is clear that Afrobeat is a product we can export. But not only Afrobeat but Fuji and Highlife; Nollywood; our fashion and our art. There are a lot of other products we can export in the arts and other sectors but we must put in place the infrastructure and framework to support these industries.
As you discuss the modalities for implementing the Zero Oil Plan (ZOP), a component of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the Federal Government, and showcasing landmark export projects of participating states, I want to urge that we think outside the box.
As a State, we have keyed into several export-oriented initiatives such as the One State One Product (OSOP) initiative spear-headed and monitored by Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC). Through this initiative, our State has identified and commenced the process of developing three key commodities in which we have comparative and competitive advantage – coconut, fish and vegetables.
We plan to facilitate the development of these commodities into exportable products.
Our export promotion initiatives also include export aggregators designed to boost productive capacities of our indigenous micro, small and medium industries. The objective is to create locally-made products and services that not only satisfy local markets but meet competitive export demand.
Our efforts in this area include:
Development of Lekki Free Zone as a one-stop export processing zone.
Development of enterprise zones, small-scale industrial estates and light industrial parks in different parts of the State to provide business accommodation and factory spaces
Supporting the Made in Lagos campaign to enhance market access for our MSMEs.
Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen, these initiatives are some of our State’s programmes to support the Zero Oil Plan of the Federal Government. But we can do more.
I am very hopeful that this meeting would come up with a viable and sustainable agenda that would at the end of the day help us in achieving our economic re-birth without reliance on the oil. Let us expand the scope of our export considerations and increase the wealth of our country.
If one of the most powerful men in the world is a lover of our music and culture, then we must look inwards and find ways to export this. Our State is big on Arts and Entertainment and we believe strongly that this is a very lucrative avenue to create wealth and employment for our people.
Once again, I welcome you all to Lagos and I wish you very rewarding and impactful deliberations over the next two days. While here, I welcome you all to explore our State and see at first hand the many potential export opportunities we possess.
On this note, Your Excellency, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I formally declare this 2nd National Committee on Export Promotion Meeting open.
…Visit Will Open New Vista Of Cooperation Between France And Lagos-
…Insists State Remains Undeniable Destination For Business, Pleasure In Africa
President of France, Mr. Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday night made a historic visit to the Afrika Shrine, home of the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, describing it as an iconic centre for the propagation of African culture, strength and music.
Macron, who spoke at the New Afrika Shrine in Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos, at an event tagged ‘Celebration of African Culture’ to inaugurate the African Cultural Season 2020, said he was glad to be back to the Afrika Shrine, adding that he still holds fond memories of the place since his first visit back in 2002.
“I discovered Nigeria and a lot of my friends are here. I discovered Nigeria and I discovered Lagos and I discovered the shrine. This place is an iconic place and it is a place where the best of music is given. I have to say my main memories about this place are friends, proud people, proud of their culture, proud of their art and music. I have a very different view of Africa than a lot of other people in Europe,” he said.
Macron stressed the need for Africa and Europe, especially France to build a new commonality, adding that “this new commonality is not based on what is important for Europeans but what is important for Africa, about their culture, how they build their culture and promote the culture and which places are important for them about their culture. Being here, I do recognize their culture and respect their views. This place is important for Africa and their culture and that is why I am here.”
He also disclosed plans to host the African Cultural Season 2020 in France, which he said, would be about promoting African culture in Europe, adding that the event was going to be for Africa and by African artistes.
“It will include people with fashion, African movies, new generation of artistes will be coming from Africa and it will be organized by them to show Europe and France” the real culture of Africa.
“The event will be financed by African leaders. It will not be sponsored by France or European businesses, but by African businesses, it is brand new. This season is a unique one and it will be the new face of Africa in Europe organize by Africans, providing what you like and what you have here,” he said.
At the official unveiling of Alliance Francaise, a French Cultural Centre in Lagos on Wednesday, Macron said the development was part of the measures to scale up the relationship between France and Nigeria, while also specifically offering the commitment of the government and people of France to development of infrastructural projects in Lagos.
“Thanks very much for being here; thanks very much for making this possible and to Mr Governor, we spoke yesterday and this morning together in the car. Going to shrine together yesterday and going to French Alliance now. It’s much more quite, much more calm and reasonable but at the end of the day, I think both of us (Governor Ambode and I) did share the same views that we can do tremendous things together.
“Your State – Lagos, is one of the main challenges of not just Nigeria but the whole of Africa. I mean this huge city, there is tremendous challenge about how to make people living together in peace, in a better place and I want France to be part of this story and I do want my country and my people being part of this experience. It means belonging same values, sharing cultures, languages, literatures, music, movies, building together projects, having common economic projects and so on, and this eco system will be not just possible but stronger staying in this place,” Macron said.
Earlier, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode while welcoming President Macron to the State, expressed optimism that the historic visit will go a long way to break any barriers between Nigeria and France as well as foster greater collaboration for economic, social and cultural growth.
The Governor said the State Government was delighted to host Macron, a well respected global leader, adding that it would also signal a new era between both countries, especially for Lagos where talents in the arts and creative industry abound.
“On behalf of the government and good people of Lagos State, I welcome His Excellency, President Emmanuel Macron, President of France, to the commercial and cultural capital of Nigeria and indeed West Africa.
“We are delighted and honoured to be hosting a President of one of the world’s Super Powers; a permanent member of the United Nation’s Security Council with veto rights, a prominent member of the G8 and the World Trade Organisation and a champion of Global Climate Change.
The Governor said he was particularly delighted that Macron’s visit to Lagos began on a cultural and entertainment note, adding that the French Cultural Centre and Alliance Française based in the State had always been an asset to its cultural landscape in the same way that Trace Television had also become an invaluable addition to its music and entertainment sphere.
Governor Ambode said he was very optimistic Macron’s visit and activities would boost the State’s quest to become the culture and entertainment capital of Africa, just as he said that the State Government would seek to establish collaborations with France and play an integral part of the Year 2020 African Cultural Season in Paris as envisioned by President Macron.
“With the exceptional characteristics of our State as the most populous, vibrant and indeed the fifth richest economy on the African continent, Lagos is the undeniable destination for business and pleasure in Africa. The new Lagos experience is being enhanced daily as we continue to create an enduring infrastructural and security architecture for the business of tourism and cultural arts to thrive. This also creates a platform for our local talents to feel a sense of belonging and encouragement.
“Mr. President, this momentous State Visit shall signal the dawn of a new era between France and Nigeria especially for the myriad of talents that have made Lagos their home,” the Governor said.
He said Macron’s emergence as the President of France has inspired many youths in Nigeria, who constitute 60 percent of the country’s population, adding that Lagos was providing avenues for youths to explore their creativity and talents.
There were also Art Exhibition, Fashion Show, display of Nollywood scenes, presentation of a painting of Fela to Macron by Governor Ambode as well as pencil frame artwork of Macron done by 11-old old Kareem Olamilekan drawn within two hours.
Highpoints of the night include sterling performances by dance group, Footprints of David, music artistes, Yemi Alade, Charlotte Dipanda from Kenya and a scintillating performance by Femi Kuti to bring the event to a close.
…As Aregbesola Advocates Revisit of Road Worthiness Certification For Vehicles
Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Friday evening visited the Lagos House in Alausa Ikeja to convey the condolences of the Federal Government to the State Government on the tragic tanker explosion on Thursday at the Otedola Bridge which claimed lives and properties.
Osinbajo, who spoke shortly after a closed door meeting with the State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, said the Federal Government was deeply saddened by the incident, saying that President Muhammadu Buhari had delegated him to visit the State to commiserate with the people of Lagos on the unfortunate incident.
“I am here to commiserate with the government and people of Lagos State on the tragedy that occurred just yesterday. It’s a very terrible thing and all of us were deeply saddened by it. Before Mr. President left this morning he asked me to express his sincere condolences to his Excellency and also to the people of the State. It’s a very deeply saddening event and we pray this sort of thing will never repeat itself.
“We also hope that all of those who have suffered injury will recover soon and we pray for comfort for those who lost their loved ones and properties in this very tragic event. That’s why am here.
Responding, Governor Ambode thanked the Vice President for finding time to visit to condole with the people of the State in this moment of grief, saying that it was a testament to the fact that the Federal Government was deeply concerned about the safety of lives and property of residents in the State.
“We just want to say a big thank you to President Muhammadu Buhari and also a big thank you to Mr. Vice President for finding out time to quickly commiserate with us in Lagos and also with the press statement of Mr. President who is not able to be here personally but has sent the Vice President, because they feel so strongly that this kind of incident is not what should be occurring in this time in Lagos and they feel so concerned that beyond the incident, if there are other remedies that we need to do, we have already discussed on those issues that we need to quickly put in place to make sure that we do not have such reoccurrence,” he said.
Governor Ambode also assured the Vice President that the situation had been brought under control and normalcy had been restored within the axis where the incident occurred, saying that all hands are on deck to prevent such incidents in future.
“Normalcy has come back to the city and we believe strongly that other measures will be put in place to make sure that things go on normally,” he said.
The Governor equally thanked his counterpart in Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola who was also at the Lagos House to express his condolences, while commiserating with all the families who lost their loved ones as well as properties in the inferno.
Speaking earlier, Aregbesola commiserated with the government and people of Lagos State, particularly those who lost their loved ones and properties to the tragedy, but said the incident called to question the need to revisit road worthiness certification for vehicles initiated by the Lagos State Government.
“Lagos initiated a process that we all refused to follow through because of the agitation of those who are affected and that process is the Ministry of Transport (MOT) Road Worthiness Certificate. We have to now ask again for our governments to revive the MOT certification of vehicles because if all vehicles are very road worthy, probably the dastardly accident of yesterday would have been avoided.
“Our sympathy can only be meaningful if we do the right thing to prevent such occurrence and so let us revive the spirit of ensuring road worthiness of vehicles on our roads particularly those ones that have capacity for mass destruction such as articulated vehicles,” Aregbesola said.