Go Africa Network: Changing The Narrative With A Processing Factory In Nigeria

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(Tuesday/Folder)

                                               
By Eubaldus Enahoro

To
add value to Nigeria’s raw products, which are being exported out of the
country and later imported as finished products, the Go Africa Trading and Go
Africa Market place has commenced the construction of a processing plant in
Nigeria.

Speaking
with the Senior Director for African Affairs and promotions in an Exclusive
Interview in Benin City, with the weekend Observer Mr. Richard lyasere said it
is time Africans add value to the abundant natural resources endowed by God in
the continent.   

Apparently
not happy with the ugly trend that has impoverished the black race, lyasere who
has been in the USA for almost 30 years disclosed that the processing plant
will link Africa to the world, by envisioning the future of Africa.

Excerpts of the
interview:

Why did you
decide to come back home to invest?

One
of the reasons is this brain drain that is going on In the society and secondly
is the love for the land, which I always have deep in my heart, People have
been asking me that question too, and we are doing a lot to our fellow country
men, especially, the Bini’s in New York City.

I
have been concerned about several approaches we can develop the land, since
this is where I am from. Anything that will lead to the betterment of Nigeria,
I am 100 percent for it. I have been in New York for over 27, 28 years now, I
left this country about 30 years ago. I have done my part and I have come to
realize that home is home and because of security problems here and corruption,
people in diaspora are having a difficult task of coming back home to invest.
But we must change that mentality. A couple of my friends are pointing fingers
to the government for not creating an enabling environment for foreign
investors. Though there is truth in that, but I do not allow such things to
discourage me.

How did you
begin this Journey?

I
was a promoter bringing Nigerian artiste to New York City to perform. The likes
of Timaya, Tu face, Flavour and a lot of them, organized events, I make some
money and became very popular in New York City, doing parties and stuffs like
that. In the year 2010 or before then, there was an incident about Amadou
Dialo. He was an African immigrant that was short 41 times in New York City and
after that the New York City government official tried to reach out to the
African Community. It was a very difficult thing for them because there was no
established African organization that they could go to or relate with,

The
bronx borrough president then created the African Advisory Council. The African
Advisory Council was under the auspices of Bronx Borrough President. He goes
from one African Community to another community. He would pick somebody that is
very popular, who he knows is a leader there. He would go to Gambia and others
to sick people from each and I happen to be somebody, picked from the Nigeria
community.

This
African Advisory Council was set up and it became a can do it between the
African Community and the New York City Government.

A
strong voice for the Africans. Even when Obama came to New York, he
specifically asked for this council and he spoke to them because he had the
initiative about the youth programme and he wanted the African’s to be
involved.

Taxation Without
Representation

In
New York, there is what we call taxation without representation. The Africans
are paying their taxes, but they are not getting the benefit out there. Some of
them do not even know, some of them know about it but they are scared to even
take advantage of it. This are what the council looked into. Being part of that
I was like a community liaison I am the one that Will go to the African
Community bridging the gap, letting people know that there is council like
this. If need housing, you need job, if you have a problem, you can come to the
council and they wilt help you.

There
was a time I even contested to be the chairman of the council and then the Go
Africa, is a non profit organization in New York. Every year they organize
street festival, they help to teaching Africans about business,
entrepreneurship and lot of different things they are doing. They decided to
offer me a position as the Senior Director for African Affairs. When I lost the
election to be the chairman for the council I decided to come on board with
them.

Go Africa
Network

When
I joined the Go Africa Network, one of my project was what we call, trade
mission to bring the elected officials in New York City to Nigeria. When they
are coming they will come will professional, solar system professional are
expected to come with.

We
would bring them here and we would have seminar, worship with this elected
officials. Any Nigeria Citizen interested in Exporting and Importing in IT
business, and other professionals. The project is to bring these officials.
spoke to the commissioner and a couple of people in government in Lagos,
Calabar A whole lot of different people and the Ambassador that was working
with us in New York City, the Consul General. But few months later, he died and
this slowed down the whole programme, and from that trade mission we transit
into bringing a processing plant to Nigeria. There is a company called Agility.
Agility is a warehouse company.

Some
of the tough challenges that we encountered, which include, location, and land,
Agility solved that problem for us.

Inside
that warehouse we would create a processing plant. Ghana is close to finishing
now. We are in a free trade zone there now, Ghana is really moving fast.

The
construction of the Cote d’voir, just started. I just received whatsapp message
few minutes ago and the Nigeria own is a little bit challenging. They started
the Nigeria own before the Cote d’voir, but is very challenging.

The
Go Africa is going to be processing cashew, a cashew processing plant, Cocoa,
peanut sesame seeds — it is going to be solely for export and this is something
good. The major benefit of these processing plant is adding value to African
products.

What
is paining me personally is the fact that there is this huge raw materials in
Africa but they are just exported out raw, processed and sold back us.

If
there is little that we can do to alleviate this problem, I will give
everything, one hundred percent for it. These processing plant is going be
adding value to African products.

Challenges faced
by Africans in Diaspora

There
are lots of challenges, Africans face. First of all, that is not your home,
secondly, the language. I have seen so many people come to America, probably
having masters degree in English and when they land America-common hello to
somebody they say….what do you say.

They
still do not understand. This is somebody with a masters degree in English, but
when he gets there, they don’t understand him.

Sometime,
if you can even write they have problem in your writing, so language is one of
the big proble.tn or challenges. It is noryour place and we are quick to become
a victim of the society. For example, when some of this street boys or area
boys, we have them, there too, know you are an African, automatically, inside
their head, you are weak, and you become their target.

You
will be the first they want to rob, just because you are an African, you do not
look like them or you do not walk like them, It is just like here in Benin and
somebody from Ghana or Mali is living within us here, even when we are all the
same African, you can see what is going on in South Africa.

The
government benefit that is out there, most people do not have papers, work
authorization, green card. Even though there are some programme that you can
take advantage of even if you do not have papers, people are so scared to even
take the initiative to go out to ask of these benefits, because they are scared
they will be deported.

I
have seen so many people too, even medical doctors, from here, when they get to
America they cannot pass their medical board examination. They will take it for
four to six times before they finally pass them.

For
example, I was going through my wife question, my wife is a registered nurse,
she studied nursing in Nigeria before she went to America. Before she came to
America I will be sending her sample questions, and while reading some of the
questions and one of the question is if it is advisable give Macaroni and
cheese to a diabetic patient.

Then,
somebody, like my wife had never known what is macaroni and cheese which is a
type of food that is very common just like Eba. But when you see Macaroni and
Cheese, you do not even know what that is and what is the composition. Those
are some of the challenges. For Africans, it is even easy for Nigerians,
because they are English speaking country. But for people from Senegal or those
Francophone countries, there are so many challenges that are some of the
reasons of setting up the African Advisory Council, they come in and help the
African Community.

How do you
achieve your goals?

The
Only way to help the Africans is through elected officials and in the African
Community, we have some friends in politics who are people who sit down with us
to hear our problem.

Our
congress man Adriano Espaillat is one of Africa’s friends. People like the
Bronx Borough President Ruben, Leticia James, Michael Blake, an Assembly
member, and a host of politicians. They see our problem, and reckon with us and
they are willing to help. These are policy makers. Like I said earlier,
taxation without representation is a big problem in African Community, so they
are out there trying to change some policies and listen to us.

When
such a politician is up for re-election or morning from one position to another
or bidding for a different position, we would rally round and make sure we
support one of our own.

I
am also a member of the United African coalition, which came out from the
Africa. Advisory Council.

The
African Advisory Council have so many limitations, because it is under the
government. There are so many things we cannot do. We cannot be too politically
involved because it is under the government. A couple of us inside came out to
form the United Africa Coalition. It is purely a political organization, a
political machine that will put behind any politician that we feel that are our
friend.

 We also are there to handle the political side
of it. Things we cannot do with, we use the coalition.

   The Go Africa team has politicians supporting
us and helping us to reach our goals. We do fund raising, for the politicians.

The
Nigeria politics and America politics is not quite the same. In Nigeria
politicians share money for the people but in America, the people donate money
to the politicians. We do fund raising for these politicians to enable them do
their adverts, pay their workers.

The Halem Street
festival

Coming
from entertainment background, I consider myself a retired promoter, with
massive experience in Entertainment. That was why I was picked to come on board
to represent Africa, so I can handle most of their entertainment part of it
like the artiste performance and management of the stage. Go Africa street
festival is bringing Africans together and some entrepreneur like fashion designers
Africans who own stores, those who sell food, own restaurants, come together
and we block a whole street which is given to us, with different canopies and
there is a lot of music, food vendors, It is usually huge, organized by Daddy
rich production. I have helped a lot of up coming Nigeria artistes who are
struggling there in New York City, helped to promote them and most recently
what went viral was the Edo Convention in Washington DC. I was the one who
wrote in the social media that they were going louse flavour to show case the
event. This did not go down well with me if we want to promote Edo Culture. I
was happy it was taken out of the programme.

Eubaldus
Enahoro is Deputy Editor with the Nigerian Observer

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