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Robert Perry Endorses Vivian Okeke

The Career Diplomat Mrs.Vivian Okeke who recently made waves in the media over her National Anthem singing. Recently was endorsed by United States Ambassador Perry for her excellent accomplishment while representing Nigeria as Director Of International Trade Relations working with the United States Government and the Obama Administration.

United States Ambassador and former US Secertary on African Affairs stated that

"The first time I worked with Mrs. Okeke was on CCA’s March 2011 Nigeria Investment Power Forum co-hosted with the Embassy of Nigeria. Mrs. Okeke was the Economic, Trade and Investment Minister Counselor at the Nigerian embassy in Washington, DC, under the late Ambassador Adebowale Adefuye. We worked closely as a team to plan the Forum, and Mrs. Okeke followed up relentlessly to ensure the participation of senior Nigerian government officials and business leaders to tell the story of investment opportunities in Nigeria’s power sector. The success of the March 2011 Nigeria Investment Power Forum planted the seed for the February 2012 power sector trade mission led by the Africa Bureau of the U.S. State Department and CCA to five African countries, including Nigeria."

Some of Notable Trade missions she has championed for Foreign Investment in Nigeria are:

Mrs. Okeke also played a vital role in the Nigerian Embassy’s coordination of other events with the Corporate Council on Africa to promote American investment in Nigeria. Her understanding of the multi-cultural dynamics in the U.S. and Nigeria, and her calm, quiet speaking style uniquely enabled her to be a trusted and valued advisor to Ambassador Adefuye as they jointly crafted Nigeria’s story as a premier investment destination to American audiences, and gained the participation of Nigerian Ministers, Governors, Members of the National Assembly, and business leaders on the stage. Key events included:

• April 2012: The Transforming Nigerian Agribusiness through Investment Forum in Washington, D.C. led by H.E. Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development;

• October 2012: Investment Forum on Nigeria’s Infrastructure in Washington, D.C. led by H.E. Mr. Mike Onolememen, Minister of Works; and

• March 2013: CCA’s Infrastructure trade mission to Nigeria hosted by H.E. Mr. Mike Onolememen.

By the time President Obama first announced his Power Africa Initiative in August 2013, Nigeria was the most prepared out of the first six focus countries, with a robust in-country private sector ready to take advantage of incentives.

In the last five years since our first event together, CCA has hosted 10 high-profile events to promote U.S.-Nigeria trade and investment. These have included presidential dinners with H.E. Muhammadu Buhari and Former President Goodluck Jonathan; high-level trade missions from the United States; and most recently, the U.S.-Nigeria Institutional Investor Roadshow & Business Forum in March 2016, that CCA hosted with the Nigerian Government and the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce. In a letter to H.E. Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs after the event in March, CCA President and CEO, Stephen Hayes specifically mentioned Mrs. Okeke. “I would like to take this opportunity to praise the tremendous work and effort Mrs. Vivian Okeke, Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs put in to coordinate this program. She has been invaluable to the success of the event. This was one of our most successful Nigeria events and we hope it leads to increased U.S. investments in Nigeria.”

As a retired career diplomat, I also think Mrs. Okeke’s 33-year career in the Nigerian Foreign Service is important to note. Although each new president brings change in respect to policy, and ministerial and other senior appointments, career diplomats provide continuity and seasoned experience to support the priorities of the new administration. The importance of this cannot be overstated. Imagine if governments had to re-negotiate trade deals, re-sign MOUs and build new relationships every four or eight years when there was a change in power? Career diplomats work in the interest of country first and they are instrumental – especially to new administrations – because they know the political and economic ‘lay of the land’ in each country to which they are assigned. Their experience guides national policy so that new administrations do not have to learn from mistakes, the hard way.

Mrs. Okeke is one of the most qualified and professional diplomats I have worked with in my 34-year diplomatic career. Her nomination is merited and if she is approved by the Senate, her title as Ambassador will be a position that she has truly earned.

Amb. Robert C. Perry (Ret.) is the immediate past vice president of the Corporate Council on Africa. He has served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Central African Republic and as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the US State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs.