NIGERIA-BRAZIL TRADE VOLUME IN 2014 WAS $10.5 BILLION - AMBASSADOR EMOZOZO
Ambassador Adamu Azimeyeh Emozozo of the Nigerian embassy in Brazil is a man who personifies excellence and diligence. He has used his wealth of experience to transform the administration of the affairs of the embassy and the implementation of the Nigeria foreign policy directive in Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. In no Nigerian embassy is the effectiveness of the change mantra of the present administration is more visible. Ambassador Emozozo in this interview with Akin Akingbala of African Ripples Magazine enumerates the programmes of the embassy under his leadership to broaden trade and relations with Brazil and other countries under his purview.
How would you define Nigeria’s role in international diplomacy especially under the present dispensation?
Nigeria’s role in international diplomacy has been consistent and active especially in terms of pursuing global peace and sustainable development. This is in accordance with the foreign policy component of Chapter II, article 19 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria featuring the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy. However, successive administrations have from time to time designed specific focuses as dictated by national and global realities. This is obvious in view of its strategic place in the continent. Under the present dispensation, Nigeria is reconditioning its domestic environment and emphatically reasserting its leadership role in Africa. She is doing this by being meticulously guided and abiding by its treaty obligations in the pursuance of our national interests. In this endeavour, Nigeria is lucky and privileged to be lead by His Excellency, President Mohammadu Buhari, GCFR, who himself well understands the imperative of an adequate engagement between the domestic and external environments for an effective foreign policy delivery.
What is the state of trade between Nigeria and Brazil? In what area is trade vibrant between the two?
International trade is a vital and critical element in global intercourse and it provides a major engine-room for national development and growth. Nigeria and Brazil have since emerged as mutually beneficial trading partners with gradual and steady increases in the total volumes. As at 2014, the total volume of trade between Nigeria and Brazil was estimated over USD10.5 billion. But the trade remained mainly in oil and other petroleum products. However, efforts are being made by the Nigerian Government to improve trade in the non-oil sectors while Brazil is also intensifying efforts to increase and market its finished agricultural and industrial products in Nigeria.
What do you think Nigeria can learn from Brazil in the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) taking in account the Brazilian Petrobras?
NNPC and Petrobras are two public corporations set up in the two countries to execute specific mandates based on national priorities that may be mutually incongruous. However, Nigeria can learn from Brazil in the areas of technology development and application in managing such a strategic economic ‘golden goose’. Really, rather than talking about learning from Petrobras, one should be talking of operational complimentarity between the two bodies. This reasoning actually underpinned discussions initiated a few years back, which we believe could result in a formal understanding in the near future.
Petrobras management is currently in the spotlight in Brazil over corruption and other related allegations, what lessons do you think we can draw from this?
The spotlight Petrobras currently experiences is unfortunately not only in Brazil. It is also global; given the global outreach of its operations. The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) before now has been undergoing restructuring and reforms aimed at ushering among other things, transparency in its operations. Perhaps, the controversies, Petrobras is mired in at the moment can serve a worthy lesson on how best to manage and protect critical national agencies from unwholesome maneuvering by the high and mighty in society.
Brazil is one of the BRICS nations whose economies and development has been impressive in the last 10 years, can the Brazilian be adopted by Nigeria and how?
It may not be completely apt to adopt Brazil’s development model at this point in time. However, there are areas of competencies that Nigeria can borrow a leaf from, especially in the development of agriculture, infrastructure and manufacturing. Every country threads a development path that accords to its inspirational realities. Nigeria’s realities today dictate that we diversify the revenue base of our economy such that we can effortlessly covert our God-given potentials to actual resources required to address and meet the needs of our great population and justify the strength of our geo-political position not only in the Africa context, but also in the world at large.
What are you doing in getting Brazilian businessmen and investors interested in Nigeria?
Part of my core mandate is to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDIs) into Nigeria. This is being done through regular sensitization, mobilization and organizing business forums as well as facilitating trade missions to Nigeria. Recently, I led a business delegation to Abuja and Lagos from 10–16 October, 2015. Follow ups on the outcome of the visit are very encouraging. We are witnessing more and more encouragement between companies and entrepreneurs from both countries. At the time of this interview, there are in the works preparation of a business delegation from Nigeria to Brazil, which we believe will be consummated early in 2016. My Mission is also collaborating with NACCIMA to facilitate more Nigerian companies and businessmen to attend business fairs and exhibitions in Brazil in 2016.
What are the effects of successful transition of democratically elected government from one political party to another on the image of Nigeria in Brazil and indeed the world?
The successful transition of democratically elected government from one political party to another has creditably enhanced the image of Nigeria in Brazil and indeed the world. That democracy has been accepted globally as the best form of government, is no longer a controvertible issue. The challenge is the manner of its delivery, especially in our environment in Africa, and in some other parts of the developing world. Successful transitions in Nigeria since 1999 speak volumes of about capacity of its leaders to exemplify honour, commitment, sacrifice and faith in the greatness of Nigeria. Nigeria today is increasingly perceived as stable country thereby shoring up the confidence of investors and global political leaders alike. The ultimate outcome, in my mind, is increased prosperity and well being of Nigerians.
In what ways are you maximizing the history and cultural affiliation between Nigeria and Brazil to promote the Nigerian tourism downturn?
Against the usual rhetorical historical narrative of the cultural affinity between Nigeria and Brazil, the Embassy for the past one year, especially since I assume duty, have been working relentlessly to harness and to boost the economic and cultural ties between the two countries. We are working closely with political leaders and some cultural organizations in the States of Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Minas Gerais and Brasilia – Federal District to expand the frontiers of cultural cooperation. Also, the Mission is working hard to advance efforts to re-establish direct flight between the two countries. This, no doubt, will not only leapfrog investment and trade between Nigeria and Brazil, but also boost tourism as well as people-to-people contacts on the two sides of the South Atlantic. You may wish to note that we are working intensely with some Nigerian groups to develop sustainable cultural exchanges and promoting engagement between practitioners in the music and film industries of both Nigeria and Brazil.
Where do you place Nigeria citizens in Brazil in your responsibility portfolio taking into cognizance the global economic downturn?
The welfare of Nigerians is a cardinal element of my responsibilities in Brazil. It is of paramount importance in my day to day work. I routinely mobilize my staff to render consular and immigration services and assistance to Nigerians. We have restructured the Nigerian community into a vibrant association and are building bridges between Nigerians resident in Brazil and the local Authorities. This is achieved partly through the establishment of liaison offices in some States of the vast country where contact with our Chanceries in Brasilia and Sao Paulo could ordinarily be constraint by long distances.
How would you describe the general profile of Nigerians in Diaspora?
Nigeria is a great and well-endowed country, especially in terms of manpower strength. Our inestimable potentials are highly recognized and commendable around the world. Nigerians in Diaspora have distinguished themselves in various fields of endeavours thereby contributing to the entire growth and development in their respective countries of abode. Successive Nigerian Governments have put in place policies that have created the enabling environment for the engagement of these Nigerians as partners in our development process. Under the umbrella body known as the Nigerians in Diaspora Organization (NIDO), it is ensured that these categories of Nigerians do not only have their needed voice, but also physically take part in directing and catalyzing the destiny of our great nation. In Brazil, we have some very highly respectable leaders across the various professional spectrums. And we collaborate with them routinely.
Could you describe your relationship with your host country?
My relationship with my host country is absolutely cordial and excellent. I receive the support and cooperation of the authorities at all the time. Such level of cooperation and collaboration account for the tangible deliverables in our relations, including accentuating our ties to level of a Mechanism for Strategic Dialogue between Nigeria and Brazil.
What is a typical day in the office for you? And how do you unwind?
My typical day in the office runs from 8:00am to 4:00pm. While here, it is strictly business. And because I have a team made up of hardworking officers who are determined to assist in the actualization of my mandate, I look forward to every other day in the office. Beyond this, I attend meetings and receptions with host authorities, colleagues in the diplomatic corps as well as potential investors and businessmen thus stretching the day beyond midnight, and sometimes at locations outside Brasilia. I unwind by playing golf and having some sporting activities with my officers every Friday at my official Residence.
BY AKIN AKINGBALA ON DECEMBER 10, 2015FEATURES