H.E Ismail Ayobami Alatise, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Uganda delivering his Independence speech at his residence in Kampala.
By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/Umoja Standard Via KMA Updates
Kampala, Uganda: Today, Nigerian High Commission Residence in Kampala, Uganda was painted Green and While with men and women (Nigerians) donned in agbada, Babaringa and other forms chanting and dancing upon marking 63 years of self rule.
It was today in 1960 when Nigeria attained own self rule from hands of colonialists, ever since, it has enjoyed commendable freedom in all spheres, peaceful transition of power, steady growth, to mention but a few.
H.E Ismail Ayobami Alatise, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Uganda while giving his address to the congregation that had turned up to be part of the celebration, reckoned on the long standing historical relationship between the two countries which wowed to uphold and see it yield more for the benefit of the two countries especially trade and investment.
“To drive the investment and deepen bilateral economic and trade relations between the two countries, The High Commission in May 2023 organized the maiden edition of the Nigeria-Uganda Business and Investment Forum in collaboration with the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The event was supported by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Investment of the two countries. It brought together the crew of government officials, captains of industry, the private sectors from both countries and other stakeholders believed to be critical in expanding economic and trade relations between Nigeria and Uganda.” He added.
To further take the message of abundant business potentials to other parts of the host country, H.E Alatis says, he visited some districts and held town hall meetings with both the political leadership and business communities as well as Nigerians in such districts, Among which are; Arua, Gulu, Mbarara, Mbale and Soroti among others. While there, he assured the business community in Uganda of the High Commission’s readiness to facilitate engagements with their counterparts in Nigeria, including business match making. He reported that, in all the engagements so far, positive responses are followed and that some of the business communities are preparing to soon undertake trade missions to Nigeria.
He added that, at the level of the mission, they drafted a road map for the year 2023 which included cultural relations, trade and investment among all the key ingredients needed to boost our bilateral relations with the Republic of Uganda and in March 2023, the High Commission organized the first Nigeria-Uganda arts competition, tagged ‘My Impression Arts Competition’ which was done in collaboration with the Uganda National Cultural Center. ‘The competition brought together young artists from across Universities in Uganda and Nigeria to paint their impression of the other country. As a spectacle, it served as an opportunity to forge closer cultural interface among the mutual participants.’
“Relations between Nigeria and Uganda remain warm and cordial as we look forward for more cooperation. Nigeria is committed to sustaining its technical assistance to Uganda through which some Ugandan institutions have continued to receive Nigerian professionals fully funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria. I wish therefore to charge the over 85 Nigerian professors currently here in Uganda under the technical aid call for volunteer scheme to remain the good ambassadors of Nigeria in their respective institutions and in the country at large.” He highlighted.
He heaped praises to the government and people of the Republic of Uganda for the hospitality they continue to accord Nigerians resident in the country and their brotherly love and assured that the two countries will continue to engage in this broader dispensation for the good of both citizens.
He went on to note that, Nigeria has made steady progress in her development drive and continues to climb the ladder of progress steadily they celebrate 63rd Independence Day of a United Nigeria with resilient citizens both at home and abroad, making history through notable achievements around the globe.
He says, regardless of a slow start in 2023, GDP grew by 2.51% in the second quarter of 2023 year. Within the quarter, the new government also announced a set of reforms, including the abolishment of the costly first subsidy regime, as well as the convergence of the nation’s multiple forex windows. The country’s GDP currently stands at USD 477.3 billion. In addition, the new government has participated in a number of international engagements aimed at bringing economic circle to Nigerians.
He reminded the congregation that in February, 2023 through March this year, Nigerians went to the polls to elect new leaders from the president down to the state’s Legislative assembly. Nigerians have once again transitioned peacefully from the previous democratic dispensation to a new one headed by His Excellency President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, which renewed hope for a better country.
He lauded the patronage of the Nigerian financial institutions like United Bank for Africa, Guaranteed Trust Bank, and the NIC General Insurance that saw the event happen.
(R-L) H.E Ismail A. Alatise, The Nigerian High Commissioner to Uganda, Hon. Gen. Jeje Odong, the Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister with a guest at the celebrations.
Representing Uganda as a Chief Guest at the celebrations, Hon. Gen. Jeje Odongo, Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister noted that the two countries are witnessing closer cooperation in various fields that include but not limited to Defense, Science and Technology, Education, Trade, Culture and many others. He noted that, the technical aid COPS program has been running since 1986, with some of Uganda’s educational institutions benefiting from expatriate support from the Nigerian government. ‘In the area of defense operation, armed forces have enjoyed a long-standing and constructive relationship. At the continental and international level, both countries cooperate and support each other’s positions in the multilateral fora which include the AU and the US which has been instrumental in advancing international peace and development.’
“According to the African Development Bank Group, Africa’s macroeconomic performance and outlook for Africa is expected to outperform the rest of the world in economic growth for the period 2023-24. Africa is expected to average growth of 4% of the GDP per annum, the rest of the world is expected to perform at between 2.7 and 3.2. The African continental Free Trade Area therefore presents a major opportunity for the African countries to boost intra-Africa trade, reduce poverty and broaden economic inclusion. Our two countries of Uganda and Nigeria should therefore strengthen economic partnership and take advantage of the continental free trade area.” He highlighted.
“To do this, we must continue to enhance resilience by eliminating trade barriers and boosting intra-Africa trade for example, the Nigeria and Uganda Business and Investment Forum was held here in Uganda and in Kampala. Such initiatives are welcome in improving our trade relations, closing the trade gap, exchanging products, and promoting our two-way trade. With Nigerian population being more than 200 million people, this is a huge market. I therefore would like to take this opportunity to encourage the business community here in Uganda, a group business, particularly focusing on value addition, manufacturing, mineral verification, tourism, oil and gas, energy, particularly renewable energy, and services.” He added.
Ticket winners of the maiden flight to Lagos using Uganda Airlines.
ODONGO: ‘To be inaugurated, Uganda here lands direct flight to Lagos. A major obstacle to bilateral trade between the two countries, which is transport, will soon be removed. The planned launch of Air Uganda direct flights from Entebbe to Lagos is another welcome step in the right direction. The inaugural flight of Uganda Airlines from Entebbe to Lagos is expected on the 19th of October and we shall have three flights per week, on a Sunday, on a Monday and on a Thursday. I have no doubt this will not only enhance connectivity but will also boost trade between our two countries and connect our peoples better.’
He acknowledged the Nigerian old businesses operating here in Uganda, in the different sectors of our economy and these are contributing significantly to our economy. The Nigerian businesses are in the banking sector, they are in the services sector and others. He added that, the businesses are also contributing to Uganda’s tax base. ‘I wish therefore to assure businesses and individuals interested in investing in Uganda that the Government of Uganda is committed to facilitate and to protect your investments.’
Nigeria is a multinational state inhabited by more than 250 ethnic groups speaking 500 distinct languages, all identifying with a wide variety of cultures. It is the largest economy in Africa with current GDP standing at USD 477.3 billion, with a population of over 230 Million people.
Happy 63rd Independence Day.