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Tunde Okoya On A Road Less Travelled

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Tunde Okoya On A Road Less Travelled


Tunde Okoya3The evening is nigh and the entire Ikoyi neighborhood is enveloped in quietness which is often intercepted by the occasional noise from cars speeding past Murtala Mohammed Drive. It is just the right place to meet Tunde Okoya, the new president of the Nigerian Belgian Chamber of Commerce and his board.

Okoya has been on the business scene for a while hence one is not surprised that the mantle of leadership of the NBCC has fallen on him. 

Okoya says the chamber is doing its best to tell the success story of Nigeria. “There is no better way to promote Nigeria and investments in Nigeria than showcasing it,” he explains. “This is the way we can continue to build a business relationship. We will showcase companies in Nigeria and in Belgium,” he adds.

According to him, the chamber will take on strategic areas like agriculture, manufacturing, oil and gas amongst others, things that have real impact on the economy.

“We have different experts and we know the kind of employment opportunities they are creating. We need to have a think tank to help grow businesses. Get people from Nigeria, policy makers, stakeholders to discuss issues, flesh them out and see how we can benefit from it. Nigerians can learn from Belgium and Belgium can also learn from Nigeria. It is a two-way strategy,” he reveals.

Okoya says there are similarities between these two nations, the most obvious being Belgium’s role as the gateway to Europe, and Nigeria has now become the gateway to Africa by virtue of its being the largest economy on the continent.

While explaining the chamber’s action plans, Okoya noted that for starters, it is the intention of the chamber to have a breakfast meeting every two months at the Signature Hotel to discuss topical issues of the day that will have an impact in the economy, thereby having a platform for the exchange of ideas.

For Okoya and his board members, one on the tasks before them is to visit several Belgian companies operating in Nigeria for decades so they can begin to understand the impact they are making in the real economy especially in terms of creating employment and adding real value. He believes companies like Presco Oil, Nigerite, Okomu Oil, Dredging International, amongst others will be visited.

“One of our key objectives is to also organise a trade mission to visit Belgium twice a year with one of the foremost destinations being Port of Antwerp. I understand that most of the crude oil shipped out of Nigeria goes through this strategic point in Europe and the rest of the world. We intend to see how we can benefit from the expertise in terms of maritime training and development to strengthen our domestic capacities,” he reveals.

As a man of vision Okoya is armed with a unique direction for his team. He states his vision clearly thus: “My vision is to see how we can develop a robust platform for exchange of ideas that will translate into business opportunities on both sides. Where the young vibrant ones will take over businesses in Nigeria.”

Okoya also says he hopes to strengthen the relationships between Nigeria and Belgium through trade missions, exhibitions are part of the strategies he will employ. 

“We intend to visit Belgium at least three times a year. We had trade mission from Belgium this year. We had over 50 companies from Belgium come to Nigeria. We will also look for opportunities at the government level to employ bilateral relationships in terms of capacity building.

Belgium has a very strong port. How can we gain? How can we learn? How can we have more ports? What can we learn from Belgium in all these areas? Belgium is involved in trading international, core Atlantic, there are transaction huge finances for Nigeria in Belgium. We can still improve in the business relationships,” the NBCC president enthused.

While speaking on the board members, Okoya says his team consists of people who are quite accomplished in their own areas. “It is about giving our best and seeing that are objectives succeed. At the end of the day, it is networking opportunity,” he points out.

As with most chambers of commerce, Okoya believes the challenge before his team will be in the area of micro economic situation in the country. 

“All our members are in business and we see that there may be difficult times ahead, with the falling price of oil, devaluation and insecurity in the country. These are big challenges that pose huge constraints to business. And it becomes a bit difficult to tell the Nigerian story with all these problems,” Okoya says.

The greatest challenge will be staying consistent as a business and for Nigeria to see Belgium as a partner for progress in the economy. 

Finally, he says membership is by interest. “People who have interest can join and who have the capacity and has the interest of the chamber at heart.”

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