By Hugo Odiogor, Foreign Affairs Editor
LAGOS — THE US Consul General in Nigeria, Mr. Jeffery Hawkins, has advised Nigerians to look beyond oil trade in their assessment of the relations with his country.
The envoy who was on a media tour of the corporate headquarters of Vanguard Media Limited in Lagos said there were wide areas of interaction between Nigeria and the United States that must not be relegated to the background on the strength of whether the export of crude oil to the United States increases or declines particularly on the energy independence policy of the Obama administration.
Hawkins, who was accompanied by the Public Affairs Officer in the Consulate, Mrs. Dehab Ghebreab and Information Specialist Broadcast Media, Mrs. Joke Omotunde, said there were strong ties between Nigeria and the US especially in areas of security, education, cultural exchanges, military training and collaboration in regional and continental conflict resolution.
He said: “Nigeria is a huge country and you do not fully understand the country until you are inside it. The country has enormous energy which is found in the diversity of its people, who are very humorous.
The country has vast landmass and each area has something unique about it. We recognise Nigeria as the giant of Africa because of the size of the country in population, economy, the media and sustenance of democracy.”
He said the US recognised Nigeria’s leadership role in Africa, adding that the country was equally a strong player in global affairs.
According to the envoy, foreigners to Nigeria tended to see more of the positive sides than the areas of irritations that Nigerians complained of.
Hawkins said his visit to Vanguard was part of his familiarisation tour of the Nigerian media landscape, to understand the working of the media in Nigeria and the challenges of implementing the Freedom of Information Act.
The US team was received by the Editor, Mr. Mdeno Bayagbon; Deputy Editor, Mr. Eze Anaba; Foreign Affairs Editor, Mr. Hugo Odiogor; Business Editor, Mr. Omoh Gabriel; Political Editor, Emmanuel Aziken; and Corporate Affairs Manager, Mr. Victor Omoregie.
In his welcome remarks, Bayabgon told the envoy that Vanguard as a newspaper had been very supportive of the activities of the US mission in Nigeria. He commended the Consulate for finding positive lights with which to promote social and economic relations between the two countries.
According to the Editor, it is worth commending that the US ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Terrance McCaulley, was presently on a four-city tour in US to educate Americans on the process of “Doing Business in Nigeria.”
He said that is a measure of the confidence that the US mission has in Nigeria, regardless of the security challenges facing the country now.