King in Nigeria with ties to Triad seeking investors

King in Nigeria with ties to Triad seeking investors
October 29
00:00 2015

Above: (L-R) Chronicle Publisher Ernie Pitt, Keith Grandberry, Robert Brown, Oba Kabiru Adewale Shotobi with his daughter Adetayo, and his wife Kudirat are at The Chronicle office. (Photo by Todd Luck)

Oba Kabiru Adewale Shotobi, the king of the Nigerian city of Ikorodu, visited North Carolina last week in hopes of finding new partnerships to help his people.
Shotobi visited Winston-Salem last Wednesday as one of his many stops in the Tar Heel state. In Charlotte, he visited a sustainable energy project at Johnson C. Smith University. He’s also had numerous meetings with business leaders interested in doing work in Africa.

This week Shotobi is scheduled to go to Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Ikorodu is a city of 1.5 million people in Lagos State, Nigeria, that is known for its agriculture. Shotobi said his city has many infrastructure needs in education, transportation, energy and other areas.
“I am here to solicit for investors to assist us,” he said.

The trip also had a deep personal meaning for Shotobi, who is a 1983 graduate of N.C. A&T State University, which he visited during the college’s homecoming this past weekend.

Shotobi said his electrical engineering degree from A&T was thanks to Robert Brown, founder and CEO of global business management consulting firm B&C International of High Point. Brown is a veteran in crisis management and communications professional who, over his long career, worked on the presidential campaigns of John and Robert Kennedy and Richard Nixon and advised Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Shotobi was working in a hotel in Lagos when he met Brown, who was staying there while helping to organize a new government in Nigeria. Shotobi was one of several young people Brown took to the United States to attend college.

“I felt Nigeria needed some great leadership,” said Brown. “They had some very good people there, but I felt they needed more.”

Shotobi said he believed that the education Brown helped him get was one of the reasons he was picked by his city’s kingmakers this year for the coveted position he now holds. He said Brown was like a father to him. He said he dedicated his crown to Brown.

“I wanted to come and say thank you for helping to make me what I am today,” Shotobi said.

Brown, who helped plan Shotobi’s current trip, said he was surprised and delighted when Shotobi became king.

“I think he’ll be a great king,” said Brown. “He’s compassionate, he knows what to do, he’s knowledgeable, he’s a brilliant guy.”

Shotobi is not the first African leader to have an education in America. Winston-Salem State University Assistant Professor James Pope points to the example of Kwame Nkrumah, an African native who attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and became the first president of the newly independent country of Ghana in 1960.
“One of the most traded things in the world historically has always been ideas,” said Pope.

Pope said that while African countries often have all the human and natural resources of other more industrialized nations, the legacy of colonialism and multinational exploitation continues to cause many of them to struggle with issues involving poverty, infrastructure and economic inequality.
Keith Grandberry, who also helped plan Shotobi’s trip, regularly works to connect investors with African countries to try to alleviate those issues as part of Helping Hand Worldwide.

“There’s a lot of poverty in Africa, but also there’s a lot of opportunity in Africa,” said Grandberry, the former Winston-Salem Urban League president.
Nigeria has a lot going for it. It’s referred to as the “Giant of Africa,” with a population of 174 million people, making it the most populous country in Africa and seventh most populous in the world. It’s viewed as a multinational state, with over 500 ethnic groups. More than 500 languages are spoken in the country, but English is the official language. It’s the largest economy in Africa and 20th largest in the world.

Nigeria made international headlines in recent years for its fight against the extremist group Boko Haram, which operates in the Northeast region of the country. It was also the first country to effectively contain and eliminate the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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