Message from the Chairman
The second quarter of 2023 was one of the most consequential periods for Nigerian politics in recent memory, with the events of the past few months likely to have a substantial effect on U.S.-Nigerian commercial relations for years to come. After winning February’s election, President Bola Tinubu was inaugurated on May 29 and wasted no time in implementing significant reforms. In the span of just a few weeks, he scrapped Nigeria’s costly fuel subsidy, eliminated the multiple exchange rate regime, and overhauled the leadership of both the central bank and the security services. These moves have caught the attention of investors, with many expressing cautious optimism about the future of Nigeria’s economic governance.
At the U.S.-Nigeria Council for Food Security, Trade, and Investment, we have closely tracked President Tinubu’s decisive actions. In April, on the margins of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s Spring Meet-ings in Washington, D.C., we hosted a dinner featuring a keynote by H.E. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Executive Governor of Lagos State and a close associate of President Tinubu. We were thrilled to welcome many of you to this event, our first in-person dinner since 2019. Governor Sanwo-Olu detailed the eco-nomic priorities of his state government as he enters his second term in office, covering sectors including mining, entertainment, ICT, fashion, agro-processing, and more. He also expressed confidence that his close relationship with President Tinubu will kick off a new era of coordination between the federal government in Abuja and the administration in Lagos, Nigeria’s economic engine.
After President Tinubu was sworn in on May 29, we at the Council responded to the widespread interest his reforms were generating in the business community. On July 6, we hosted a webinar with Wale Edun (President Tinubu’s Senior Adviser on Monetary Policy), Wale Tinubu (CEO of Oando Plc), and David Greene (Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja). The discussion centered around U.S. and Nigerian bilateral economic priorities under the new administration. Chargé Greene highlighted U.S. investor optimism about the pace of reforms from President Tinubu’s government, Mr. Tinubu noted the private sector’s positive view of the changes thus far, and Mr. Edun gave attendees a detailed view on how the government will manage the market exchange rate while still ensuring adequate foreign reserves. We were pleased to see keen interest in this webinar, with a robust question-and-answer session following the contributions from the three speakers.
On a more somber note, the second quarter was also marred by continued episodes of violence across Nigeria. On May 16, gunmen attacked a U.S. embassy convoy in Anambra State, killing seven people including three embassy staffers. Two other employees of the U.S. embassy were kidnapped, though police were able to rescue them three days later. On behalf of the Council, I extend my most heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. This attack is a stark reminder of the insecurity that has taken root in many parts of Nigeria. Addressing the root causes of these multiple strains of violence will be one of the most significant challenges facing the Tinubu administration.
Of course, this activity would not be possible without the unwavering support of our members. The special relationship the United States enjoys with Nigeria is more important now than ever before, and we look forward to working with you all to advance U.S.-Nigeria relations under the new government in Abuja. My very best wishes to you all for an exciting and busy second half of 2023.
Ambassador (ret.) Terence P. McCulley
Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria (2010-2013);
Chairman, U.S. Nigeria Council
Regionally in-tune, the Council’s work actively supports Nigeria’s national strategy for economic prosperity and US commercial diplomacy. With the support of key Nigerian political and economic institutions including the Nigerian Sovereign Trust Fund, the Council helps to advance critical trade and investment initiatives by maximizing industrial free trade zones, diversifying exports, integrating agro-investments into global supply chains, and matching energy development to production needs.