Abia to collaborate with Israel in digital economy, technology, says Otti

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The Abia state government has stated that it is eager to work with Israel to help it realise its full economic and technical potential, particularly in the digital economy, agriculture, human capital, and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSME).

Governor Alex Otti disclosed this during a visit to Government House, Umuahia, by His Excellency Michael Freeman, the Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria.

The Israeli ambassador praised Otti for enhancing security in Abia, according to a statement released by Kazie Uko, the governor’s chief press secretary.

He said: “As Israelis, we’re known for many things. One of the things we’re known for is not being so easy on security situations. So, when I received the invitation and had the conversation to come to Abia State, I went back to my Embassy, to my security team, and said, I’ve been invited by the government to come to Abia State.

“I expected the answer to be, ‘You are not going to Abia State, that’s not happening’, but actually the answer came back within a couple of hours, ‘Absolutely, we clear that security wise, you can go’.

“I think, again, there’s another. I’ve been here now in Nigeria  for two years, and other than being in the FCT (Abuja) and other than being in Lagos, this is my first visit outside of those two places, which again I think is a tribute to you, it’s a tribute to your work, it’s a tribute to everything that is happening here (in Abia).”

The Israeli ambassador noted that there are many similarities between Israel, Nigeria, and Abia, especially their entrepreneurial drive. He called his visit to Abia noteworthy, given that it occurred on the day when the Jewish nation was commemorating its 76th year of independence.

He said: “We both have a very young population. We both have a population that is innovative, that is determined to do better than their peers and to continually strive. Nobody taking ‘no’ for an answer, okay.

“For us, and I know it’s the same for Nigerians if the door is closed, then you’re coming through the window and if the window is closed, you’re coming in through the ceiling into the room, and that is very much an Israeli trait.”

He added that by combining technology and creativity, the governments of Israel and Abia might achieve great things in the field of agriculture.

“We are blessed to have leading agriculture experts in the world and specifically in areas of cassava, rice and cocoa production.

“It takes 5,000 litres of water to grow one kilogramme of rice. It is a huge amount of water, but Israel has discovered a technology that allows you to grow one kilogramme of rice with 1,500 litres of water, and using the drip technology you can grow it anywhere,” he said.

Governor Otti embraced the notion of cooperation, thanking the Israeli Ambassador for his visit and accepting his offer to visit Israel.

He said: “I’m very pleased, very happy to receive Your Excellency, the Ambassador, today in Abia State. I’m more enamoured to listen to you speak passionately about some of the things that are so, so important to us as a government and as a people.

“I’m very happy and I can tell you without any fear of contradiction that the state government will partner with you and work closely with you.

“Listening to you, you have a clear understanding of how the economy works, particularly the modern economy, and you have also done extensive research, particularly the things that are important to us in Abia.”

He claimed that the people’s tenacity and fortitude in the face of the present economic climate and the shortcomings of previous governments had inspired him to continue developing policies and initiatives that would enhance their well-being and support the success of their enterprises.

“After extensive research about the things that are important to us and the resources that are available, in fact, I would say that the most important resource we have are the human beings.

“The ‘can do spirit’ of our people the creativity, the innovativeness, the never say die attitude of our people, that’s actually what keeps us going

“Our people, despite the difficulties and failures of governance they have faced in the past, have continued to trudge on, to fight.

“They are so resilient and when I look at them and their spirit that is what keeps me going. I am encouraged to work for them,” Governor Otti said.

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