So on the 15th of October I attended the Diplomatic Dialogue Series organized by the Nigerian Leadership Initiative and hosted by the US Ambassador to Nigeria James Entwistle. The event was/is themed “where foreign policy meets business”.
Originally slated for 12.30pm, the event started by 1pm, and Taiwo Oyedele from PriceWaterCooper got us going with a brief background on America and Nigeria, and the history of both countries trading with each other. A few interesting things I learned, and will now share (some you might already know, so just skip).
- Nigeria with a population of 170 million people, produces (at its best) 3 million barrels of oil per day. The US, with 320 milion people, produces 9 million barrels of oil per day. Mr Oyedele said that at the rate they’re going they will overtake Saudi Arabia to become the largest exit producer in the world.
- The US is the largest oil importer from Nigeria, even though they more than double our production. Why? They consume so much! If we were half as developed as we should be, our energy needs will surpass our consumption.
- America’s the world’s largest economy, and the 3rd most populous nation (so we can stop asking why they keep playing Big Brother/Class Prefect to the world). Nigeria on the other hand is the most populous country in Africa and 7th in the world.
Mr Taiwo talked through potentials and opportunities for more trade between both countries and ended with a quote by Benjamin Franklin from 1778 -”I think that a young state, like a young virgin, should modestly stay at home, and wait the application of suitors for an alliance with her; and not run about offering her amity to all the world; and hazarding their refusal…. Our virgin is a jolly one; and tho at present not very rich, will in time be a great fortune, and where she has a favorable predisposition, it seems to me well worth cultivating.”
Spoke to me in more ways than one, that one.
Then it was time to listen to the Ambassador, who started by saying his favourite quote by Benjamin Franklin said “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”. Funnily, in putting this together, here are a few sites that say that this quote is misattributed to Franklin.
Moving on, the Ambassador was quite charismatic, and I really enjoyed his presentation. He talked about the things he’d learned in Nigeria; including “all protocols observed”, and how every wife of a dignitary was “the amiable wife of…” Lol.
Entwistle, in talking about terrorism said America has learned (the hard way) that the civilian population must first feel like the government/military forces are on their side and actually mean to protect them.
He moved on to politics, saying that in 4 months, Nigeria will hold elections and he was sure Nigeria’s electoral commission had learned quite a few lessons leading up to February.
Entwistle said that he’s called (and is still calling) on politicians to take the ‘No-Violence’ pledge. He said he spoke to media moguls earlier in the day and told them about the resonating effect that would be had if politicians had to take the No-Violence pledge before they spoke, said anything at all.
Here are a few other things he said.
- Defeating terrorism goes beyond military power/prowess by itself. A big part of it is keeping the circular population safe. At whatever/all costs.
- America cannot lead on any intervention as far as Nigeria (or any other country for that matter) is concerned. The best they can do is SUPPORT. Really instructive.
- The US has pledged $15million to support free, fair, and successful elections. Again, the word there is support.
It was a really interesting afternoon, of course I chuckled when, during the interactive segment people were asked to pose questions and a particular guy who had ‘hustled’ for the microphone said, “mine is not a question, but a comment”. Lol… Why do we always do this? Always amuses me!
Reminds me of the social media and governance conference in 2012 that held in Abuja. I think we were down to the last question for Professor Jega (or someone super important like him), and there were so many hands up! The moderator picked out a lady, admonished her to keep her question short and to the point, and then she said, “I don’t really have a question, but a comment”. When I stopped laughing, I rolled my eyes till she sat down. SMH.
Anyway, so that was my 15th spent at the Metropolitan Club in VI, Lagos. Afterwards I went to Terra Kulture, where I met Tolu.