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Corporate Personality of The Month (29th Dec 2001) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

So much has been said about the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), but very little known about the people that makes the magic happen at the chamber. For starters, the LCCI is divided into four distinct and interlocking units which consist of the General Administration/Finance, Trade Promotions, Research Information Services and Business Services Units. Though all work together to make the LCCI tick, but the Trade Promotions unit caters for the organisation of the annual Lagos International Trade Fair (LITF), which holds every November and other trade forums.

Robinson OmomiaHolding the forth at this strategic unit (Trade Promotions) is Mr. Robinson Omomia, a management expert with years of cognate experience in the field. He became an irresistible target for an interview based on his tireless role at the just concluded 2001 Lagos international Trade Fair, where he seems to be everywhere coordinating the smooth and successful outing of the fair at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos. One should not be surprised, with a LLM in Law, MBA in International Marketing, MS.c in Transport Management and numerous professional qualifications in marketing, public relations, financial management and arbitration. In terms of experience he has served as at senior management levels at Johnson and Johnson International as Area manager, SmithKline Beecham now GlaxoSmithKline Group worldwide, Africa, Middle East and Europe and at Daily Times newspaper as the first exhibition expert. Also he has developed various products in the healthcare sector.

Mr. Omomia manages the affairs of his unit in a spacious office space located at the Elephant Building in the Alausa area of Ikeja with a personal computer adorning his large table. But, the most visible thing in the office are the pictures of General Colin Powell, which occupies a greater part of a wall. When asked why the interest in Powell, he replied "Colin has the determination, focus and work hard to excel and doesn't join the bandwagon", he continues "he knows how to make himself relevant in his chosen field either in the military as a 4 Star General or in administration at the White House where he developed himself during the time of President George Bush (Snr.). He has today become the first black Secretary of State and he can become the first black President if something happens to George Bush". This is a pointer to the depth of someone of Mr. Omomia's caliber. Below are further excerpts from the interview. Enjoy it.

What does the Trade Promotion Unit of the LCCI do?

Omomia: Basically as the word denotes, we promote trade locally and internationally. We influence fiscal policies, regulate and handle investment portfolios, organise trade missions within and outside the country, monitor World Trade Organization (WTO) regimes and analyse policy matters vis a vis Nigeria, Africa and the world.

Can you trace the history of trade fairs in Nigeria and what is your analysis of the last one?

Omomia: we are the largest in Nigeria and in Africa. Trade fairs are meant to promote agency relationships, investment opportunities, showcasing of Nigeria's products to the world. It is the agglomeration of investment opportunities between Nigeria and the world.

What are the positive and negative aspects of the last fair (Nov 2001)?

Omomia: the negative aspect is the menace of small traders popularly known as hawkers, which in actual sense is part of the African trade scheme. Though they need to be organised and settled. It is planned that they will be settled before the next fair. On the positive side, the small traders do more in promoting goods and services of manufacturers.

What should the public expect at next year's fair?

Omomia: we are going to have a mixed grill of exhibitors from infrastructural, electrical power generation, road developers, telecommunications, technology transfer experts in the down and upstream, transport sector to discuss intra-modal system in the areas of air, rail and road. All issues that affect the new plan of the administration will be incorporated in the fair from the Niger Delta, mineral resources development among others.

With the world becoming a global village, what are the plans of the LCCI in joining the globalisation train in terms of opening up new frontiers?

Omomia: the LCCI is Internet ready and will utilise it for e-commerce purposes.

How has the September 11 attack on the world Trade Center in the U.S. affected trade activities in the country?

Omomia: the issue is not debatable, many exhibitors withdrew from the 2001 Lagos International Trade Fair due to the September 11 incident and it will take a while before things settle.

What implication has the newly-created Calabar Free trade Zone and the Africa Free Trade Areas for Foreign Direct Investments in the country?

Omomia: it is sure that if the benefits are spread it will have wide impact on the country. It is a laudable scheme if properly managed and harnessed. There is need, though for the creation of the scheme in Kano for the trans-Sahara trade and Lagos for the manufacturing sector.

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