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TUKUR'S TRIP TO US (1)

By NBF News
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Reeling from his recent victory in the election for the People's Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, an experienced politician and businessman with impeccable dossier, made his trip as the Chairman of PDP to the United States. Interestingly, Tukur used the opportunity to parley with Nigerians on Saturday, April 28th, as he carried the message of hope to Nigerians with a compelling optimistic view of the nation.

The following day, I had a rare opportunity to sit with Tukur to prick him on some burning issues, as well as his reason for visiting the United States. In a conversational mode, we dabbled into wide-range of national and international issues. Being the first time to meet with Tukur close-up, I was marveled at his firm grasp of national and global issues.

Generally speaking, the pulsating Tukur, who defiled age, was articulate and well grounded on the issues that came up. Bamanga Tukur spoke with unbridled enthusiasm for Nigeria and complete confidence about copious issues. Not only that he was excited to respond to any poser, but also he spoke freely-he spoke from his heart and did not shy away from any topic.

During the course of our conversation, I posed some questions to elicit his views on various issues.

Without any hesitation, Dr. Tukur touted the performance of President Goodluck Jonathan, including the positive reforms his administration has instituted to make Nigeria better. He pledged to work hard to help the Jonathan's administration succeed in transforming the lives and aspirations of the Nigerian people. Tukur stated that helping Nigeria was one of the reasons he came to the United States for economic reasons.

On apathy among Nigerians, particularly those in the Diaspora, Tukur beseeched Nigerians to shakeoff their apathetic attitude toward the country and join hands with the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan to improve the economic condition of every person in the country. 'I want all hands on deck to improve the economy of our country,' he said. Tukur, an international acclaimed energy expert, commands power of persuasion as he spoke with eloquence on apathy among some Nigerians.

Considering his business and political prowess, Tukur said he would work assiduously to educate Nigerians every chance he gets. Tukur understood that Nigeria is still facing enormous challenges, particularly about the economy hobbled by 'militarilization' of the system. He understood that bad concepts militate against national growth in all realms. Perhaps, that is why he is masochistic in his zeal to make Nigeria better. However, he bemoaned the cynical view some Nigerians in the Diaspora have about their home country. He implored Nigerians abroad to nix pessimistic attitudes towards Nigeria and imbibe a hopeful and optimistic disposition of the nation.

In the same vein, Tukur believes that increased international trade and investments will aid Nigeria's economic development. As a result, it is imperative for Nigeria to aggressively pursue foreign investments. 'There are essential economic benefits for a robust foreign invests in Nigeria,' he offered. 'With increased investments and international trade, where Nigeria exports more products, the standard of living of Nigerian citizens will increase,' Tukur said.

That said, Dr. Tukur came to US to attract energy-related investors to Nigeria. 'I am here to work with President George W. Bush to help attract investors to Nigeria,' Tukur explained when I asked why he came to the United States. Tukur used his cordial relationship with President Bush, which he cultivated when he was leading the Private Partnership (PPP) during the Bush administration.

It is important to note that PPP was an offshoot of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), a program for the African Union (AU) adopted in 2001 by the African leaders to the earnestly find new ways to enhance political, development and socio-economic growth in the AU. The priorities of the NEPAD were acceptable to and promoted by President George W. Bush and leaders of other G-8 countries. There was a keen cooperation and collaboration between the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OEED) in various realms of development.

The NEPAD-OECD provided the framework that established the Private-Private Partnership (PPP) capacity building, primarily on energy, which Dr. Tukur led.  Dr. Bamanga Tukur used the opportunity to shore up his credentials as a technocrat and expert in energy development. He was able to meet with African leaders and G-8 leaders consistently to discuss development issues in AU countries. 'I met with each new G-8 Chairman every six months to discuss development priorities and progress because G-8 changes leadership every six months,' he stated 'I represented Africa well in the new economic partnership,' he continued.

He explained that besides working on finding new vistas for economic development for Africa during his tenure, he was also working on molding politically the African unity that would experience blurred political boundaries among nations. 'During my tenure, I promoted the AU-African integration, including the Diaspora in the original six nations that made up the NEPAD so that we will have one United States of Africa.'

Faced with enormous challenges of  helping revive African economy hobbled by decades of crises such as civil wars, corruption, dictatorship, coups and counter-coups, as well as bad leadership, Tukur pressed on to finding pragmatic solutions to African development enigma. He interjected, 'I have worked tirelessly to bring Africa together economically and politically.' 'I am a Pan Africanist!' he exclaimed.

Going back to why Tukur came to the United States, 'As the President of African Business Roundtable and Chairman of People's Democratic Party of Nigeria (PDP), I have come to use my international integrity to collaborate with my friend, President George W. Bush, to attract international investors to the energy and other sectors of our economy,' he explicitly explained. 'I hosted on Sunday, April 29th at St Regis Hotel the African Business Roundtable with a theme: 'Pathways to Energy Sustainability in a Recovering Global Economy' in which many potential investors attended.'  Tukur used the African Business Roundtable platform to reach many businesses in the United States, particularly in the Houston area, a region known for its oil and gas industries.

To a large extent, Tukur's trip to the United States was successful. At least the turmoil that has pervaded PDP-USA Chapter-the jinx of restiveness and division that has plagued the Chapter since its inception has been broken. Thanks to Tukur, who finally recognized and blessed PDP-USA Chapter under the leadership of Otunba Dr. Tai Balofin. Similarly, the African Business Roundtable forum attracted a horde of many distinguished business leaders, who are potential investors in Nigeria.

More importantly, the presence of the former president of the United States, President George W. Bush, who spoke passionately about the need for vigorous development activities in Africa, particularly in Nigeria, gave credence to Tukur's efforts and objectives in the United States. What did President George Walker Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, say? Read the concluding part of this piece next week.

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