Israel-Nigeria bilateral cooperation to deepen through fundamental relations -Envoy

Ambassador of Israel to Nigeria Michael Freeman says Israel-Nigeria bilateral cooperation can further be deepened through fundamental relations by governments and people of both countries.

Freeman said this in his keynote address on “Israel Nigeria Economic Relations Expectations” during the civic reception in honour of the Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja.

The event was organised by the Nigeria Israel Business Forum (NIBF), a non-governmental organisation, aimed at deepening Israel-Nigeria economic cooperation.

The ambassador expressed appreciation to the NIBF executive members for the initiative, saying he felt honoured by their gesture.

Freeman said, “To all of you and for the consistent work you do in fostering our diplomatic relations, I thank you as well.

“On fundamental relations, we can talk about government-to-government, we can talk about business-to-business; fundamentally, it is about the people-business relationship.

“Even business, as much as it will be based on the importance of the product and the need, ultimately it is based on personal relationship.

“If you do not have a personal relationship in business, if you do not have the connection to an individual, the individual does not trust you or work with you.”

He said that a lot could be done in terms of education, agriculture, security, health and technology, but that the question remained how such could change positively in line with global challenges.

He further assured that the embassy would do all within its ambit for business links to thrive between Israelis and Nigerians with major focus on thematic areas.

Speaking at the event, Amb. Olisa Dada, former Ambassador of Nigeria to Israel, said that the event was not just to welcome Freeman, but to formerly introduce him to the operations of NIBF.

Dada, also Patron of NIBF, said that Freeman’s assumption of office was apt on meeting compatriots, who were notably friendly, hospitable, willing to cooperate, assist and do their best to ensure he achieved success.

“Whatever information you want is always there in the public sector, you have diplomats who dwell on writing reports.

“Telling stories of whether good or bad on how we see things and perceive them in the country, where we are serving and giving our own recommendations to our respective governments.

“So that they know how best to continue to relate with us on a bilateral basis; you are welcome to Nigeria, I wish you very successful stay,” Dada said.

On his part, the National President of NIBF, Mr Owusi Patgrace, said the forum was conceived in 2006, during an on the spot assessment by the organisation members on business operations in Israel.

According to him, NIBF started in 2006, when Nigerians visited and saw things for themselves and later moved for Israeli and Nigerian bilateral agreement, which was signed on Aug. 8, 2009.

“We know what Israel stands for and we know what Israel can do about business; like I will always say, enabling environment is what an average Nigerian is looking at wherever he is doing business.

“We are good in business; NIBF is right by your side to help you achieve the aim of coming to Nigeria.

“We will give you all the support you will need, please give us the same support by letting Israelis here be part of us and not come and sit one side,” he said.

The event attracted the Oni of Ife, who was represented by Dr Toyin Kolade, Erelu Asa of Nigeria, diplomats, government officials and regional executive members of NIBF across Nigeria.

High point of the event was cultural dance from three main Nigerian tribes, question and answers, NIBF presentation of gift to Freeman, as well as registration of new members into NIBF. (NAN)