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Partnering For Devt: From Ireland, Nigerians seek opportunities

*Diaspora Nigerians want mortgages

Ireland, West African Business & Economic Council, (IWABEC),  a premier ethical development and pro-trade organisation based in Dublin, Ireland,  last week,  in Abuja, at the 1st ASO Savings & Loans Homes Exhibition, came to town to promote bi-directional investment in property assets by Nigerians and her Diaspora in Ireland and United Kingdom.

IWABEC Executive Directors, Nigerian-born Clement Esebamen and Yinka Odeajo (who is also the publisher of Bold & Beautiful, Ireland),  in a chat with Abuja Bulletin, discussed the organisation’s ambitions for both territories and their strategy for promoting Nigeria as an exciting and rewarding investment destination.

Why IWABEC interest in property and construction?
We do have a series of Fairs and Trade Expos as part of our strategic plan for the organisation. In fact, we are hosting the International Property & Investment Trade Fair Dublin 2011 from April 27 – 29.

We are partnering with reputable and growing mortgage providers in Nigeria like Aso Savings & Loans PLC and real estate developers to offer property and facilities to Nigerians abroad, particularly the over 10,000 professionals in Ireland, to invest in Nigeria and add fillip to the nascent residential mortgage market.

Ireland has excelled in property construction and infrastructure with output of over 90,000 housing units in 2007 alone. We also have the companies in the sector in Ireland now with excess capacity and needed skills looking to partner with Nigerian companies to work over here. Remember also it is the only other English-speaking country in Europe, with whom Nigeria has long-standing educational, cultural, health and shared religious connections. Both countries will gain immensely.

Do you feel a conflict promoting the interests of Ireland and Nigeria?
No. We are confident in our identity – a dual national in an increasingly multinational global village. Yes, I am a better Nigerian by being  an Irish national, and I also believe that my Nigerian heritage makes me an even better Irish citizen. When I was appointed Special Adviser in Ireland, the Nigerian government wrote to congratulate me through Mrs Uzoma who is now the Comptroller-General of Nigerian Immigration Service; it was really a double honour to be so recognised.

I mentioned earlier that we did help coordinate a ministerial delegation to Nigeria by the Irish government in March 2009, largely to promote Irish businesses and encourage real partnerships. I believe we must do more to help Irish businesses grow and win markets out here as the opportunities are simply amazing, and the Irish will be better value and quality for Nigeria. I am also here negotiating facilities for Nigerians abroad to invest back home safely and in a sustainable manner.

Clement Esebamen(left) and Yinka Odeajo

So what an immigrant ought to do very quickly is resolve that identity question, refrain from self-loathing and or vilification of their country of origin simply by past real or imagined experience(s), learn and be diligent in their adopted home. Everything else will take shape as opportunities are not monopolised, but very much available to those who will put the effort into any undertaking.

Contesting the elections in Ireland in 2011, what do you make of the campaigns here so far?
I think political contest in any terrain is usually fierce; after all, it is ultimately about the election of those who will authoritatively allocate values and resources. I am, however, very concerned at the increasing level of politically-motivated violence in the week I have been here.

The situation is not like that in the West and even in Ireland where civil war and sectarian divide hobbled the country for a while, we do not experience such. As a first black general elections candidate in Ireland, the worst was some bigoted lady placing an abusive call to my phone! But, of course, we have the institutions of the state competently anticipating and neutralising untoward behaviour. That is the difference. I do applaud the merry and peaceful campaigns which are in the majority and honestly I think those fantastic atmospheres need to be more eulogised.

Some in the West anticipate the failure of Nigeria due to our contradictions. As a former high level government official in the EU, do you support that view?

No,  I do not. I believe in Nigeria, we do all have a stake in making it work for all of us. We each have to play our little part, like you and I today. You see, it is the sum of all those small parts that builds a nation. The Japanese historical example has shown that with resolve and cooperation, a nation can rise even from the ashes, they have done it before and will do it again.

Nigeria is extremely lucky and favoured, we are certainly hobbled by some negatives, but we cannot bring about needed-changes by trumpeting those challenges monotonously. We should learn to communicate our ideals more than our problems so that we can create our desired nation. I hold faith in the sanctity of the forthcoming elections; an improved process will guarantee real progress and stability. I am a believer in the grace and goodness of God.


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