With thawing relations between Nigeria and the U.S., Jibril Aminu, the Nigerian ambassador to the U.S., is encouraging Nigerians living here to visit their homeland at least twice a year “along with American friends,” not only to help tourism but to encourage business relations as well.

“Fellow Nigerians, you are doing very well. We now have the opportunity to rebuild, and business is made up of risk and trust,” Dr. Aminu, a cardiologist, told attendees of a meeting of the American-Nigerian International Chamber of Commerce held at the World Trade Center Atlanta on July 19. “Trust your motherland. Where you don’t have aunts and uncles, it’s not your home.”

Dr. Aminu was in Atlanta to visit with members of the Nigerian community living here as well as officials of the recently opened Nigerian consulate general and local government officials and business representatives.

The Nigerian government is conducting a U.S.-wide registration of Nigerians in an attempt to find out just how many Nigerians are living here. Dr. Aminu estimated that the survey would register between one and five million.

He explained that one reason many Nigerians have come to America is because of its educational and professional opportunities. “We have had leaders who believed in education and invested in it,” he added. “Nigerians have seen the rewards of education and they know that those who have it can survive adversity better than those who don’t.”

Relations between the U.S. and Nigeria have improved markedly with the election of Olusegun Obasanjo as president last year, he said. He applauded passage by Congress of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act extending free trade relations between the U.S. and sub-Saharan countries in Africa

He also encouraged Georgia agri-businesses to take an interested in Nigeria. “Low yields are the most serious agricultural problem throughout Africa,” he told GlobalFax in an interview. “There are many Georgia companies who can work with us to increase these yields.”

And he encouraged Delta Air Lines and others to investigate the possibility of establishing flights to Nigeria now that a new agreement has been signed with the Department of Transportation.

To learn more about activities of the American-Nigerian International Chamber of Commerce here, call (404) 688-6222, send a fax to (770) 664-8261 or e-mail Bapcefi@aol.com