Reception For Greek National Day

Mar 17, 2008 - It is my pleasure to join well-wishers here present today and the representatives of Greece on today’s occasion of the Greek National Day. It is indeed a great honour and privilege as I share with you in the joy of this National Day Celebration, particularly His Excellency, Mr. Harris Dafaranos, the Greek Ambassador to Nigeria.

Historians are always quick to refer to Greece as the oldest democracy in the world. Therefore, we believe that we have a lot to learn from Greece to develop our democracy here. Relationships between Nigeria and Greece can also be said to be one of oldest dating back to the beginnings before independence. In terms of trade and culture, Nigeria has benefited tremendously from the experience of Greece. For instance, Greek entrepreneurs have had a fairly long presence in Nigeria. Greek investments in Nigeria exceed 5b US dollars, and Nigerian companies such as NBC (soft drinks, minerals water, fruit juices) Frigo glass, Nigerian Foundries, Arbico Construction, Mandillas Plc, and Flour Mills of Nigeria are among the fruits of this investment drive.

The political relations between Greece and Nigeria have been traditionally friendly. However, I believe this tie can be strengthened if the volume of trade and investments improves. Also, exchanges of scientists can be encouraged and exchanges of ministerial visits, delegation of chambers of commerce and industry, trade fair participation in both countries, linkages among academics would provide an avenue to cement the relationship.

While the Embassy of Greece is in Abuja, the Federal Capital of Nigeria, the consular section remains in Lagos due to the economic and commercial importance of this port-city - State.

The statistics released by the United Nations two weeks ago, projected that Lagos would be the largest Mega-city in Africa in the whole world after Bombay in Indian and Tokyo in Japan by the Year 2020. This enviable status presents a veritable opportunity for a larger market to explore by foreign investors, particularly Greece. Opportunities abound in the Maritime Sector, real estate, rail transportation network, banking and energy sectors.

This administration has put in place several security initiatives to stem the rising wave of banditry and insecurity in the State. This is aggressively being pursued to ensure an investor-friendly environment for all local and foreign investors. I want to urge His Excellency, Mr. Harris Dafaranos to pass this message home that Lagos State is prepared to welcome as many Greek investors as possible to our State.

We have aggressively initiated and executed several projects and policies to better the lots of our citizens and justify the confidence reposed in us by all Lagosians. Infrastructural facilities in the areas of water supply, transportation network, housing, and drainage system are also being upgraded.

As a developing economy and emerging democracy we truly have a lot to share and learn from your long years of democratic experience. We appreciate and cherish your achievements in strengthening democracy and deepening its values among your citizens.

Today’s presentations of these photographic exhibitions also signifies the importance or relevance attached to culture by our two countries. That we are having two exhibitions – one on Greece and the second on “Modern Faces of Nigeria” by a popular Nigerian photographer, Mr. Don Barber underscore the strong relationship between our country and Greece.

Finally, I would like to congratulate Mrs. Maiden Ibru, CEO of the Guardian who is also being decorated with the Greek Presidential Medal of Honour. I believe this honour is not only for Mrs. Ibru but for Nigeria. Once again, I thank all the representatives of Greece present here especially, Harris Dafaranos, the Greek Ambassador.

It is my honour and pleasure to inaugurate the photographic exhibitions organized to commemorate the Greek National Day today to the glory of God and the benefit of our people.

Thank you and God bless.

‘Eko o ni baje’

Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN)
Executive Governor
Lagos State

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