Sylvester Turner, the mayor of Houston, the United States of America, has expressed the readiness of the city to deepen business relationships with Nigeria and increase trade volume.
Speaking at a Houston trade mission luncheon hosted by the American Business Council (ABC) in Abuja on Tuesday, Turner, Who led a delegation on a working visit to Nigeria, said conversations were ongoing with other mayors in the US to strengthen the relationship between the US and Nigeria, especially with the advent of a new administration.
One of the major aims for him would be to increase the current trade volume which stands at $1.6 billion annually.
The mayor informed that Houston, which hosts a large chunk of diaspora Nigerians in the US, was looking at opening and deepening partnership in music and sports, especially ahead of the FIFA 2026 World Cup.
“We think the timing is good, as the president is yet to announce his cabinet. Before you can do business, there has to be a relationship and so it was important for us to come and establish that relationship or build on the relationship that exists.
Yes we have done $1.6 billion in trade, but it can be substantially more.
“So, we’re looking at not just the energy sector, that’s critically important in Nigeria, and of course with Houston being the energy capital of the world. The question is how do we do even more? And then what we discovered is that through sports, a lot of things can be tied together, as we prepare for the FIFA World Cup in 2026, with Nigeria and others. Through sports, music, a lot of things can be established”, he said.
Turner also disclosed that a top priority for the city was to establish direct flight between Houston and Nigeria to facilitate business and trade relationships, and to establish a consulate office in Houston.
In his address, Sopiribo Ideriah, president of ABC, said that creativity was a goldmine to be tapped in Nigeria, and the council seeks to make sure it is diverted into positive innovation.
“With the recent inauguration of our new administration in Nigeria, it goes without saying that the mayor’s visit could not have come at a better time”, he said.
The president stated that the council, which is the voice of American businesses, will continue to advocate for the necessary changes needed to improve the investment potential of Nigeria, boost investors confidence and to ensure Nigeria’s sustainable development
“The council is a dedicated partner to Nigeria’s growth and looks forward to piloting the growth initiative proposed by the City of Houston to the Nigerian government. This luncheon is a pivotal starting point to discuss the benefits, opportunities and challenges in the Houston-Nigeria relationship”, he added.
During the panel session, Kenneth Yellowe, founder/ CEO, Global Energy Group, who was among the delegation, stressed the need for the Nigerian government to create the enabling environment for US companies to do business in Nigeria.
According to him, Nigeria has huge potential, but needs help. He said the country can be transformed in a matter of months if US companies invest in the country.
“One must feel very comfortable that if I put my money in Nigeria, invest in Nigeria, the policies will remain the same; it won’t be like a somersault where you do something today and the next day, it is a different story”, he said.