The US state of Maryland is home to more than 23 thousand Nigerians according to the Maryland’s governor Martin O’Malley. On June 20th 2013 at the Maryland State Building, Maryland and Cross River State, Nigeria signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a sister state relationship between the two communities.
The Nigerian community is one of the fastest-growing immigrant groups in Maryland, and as their ranks have expanded; so has their prominence and visibility. Now to cement that relationship, Nigeria’s Cross River state has sealed a friendship pact with Maryland that will promote tourism, agriculture and industry between the two states. (Paul Ndiho, Reporter)
Presiding over the signing ceremony, Maryland governor, Martin O’Malley, noted the sister-state relationship between the Maryland and Cross River provides a unique opportunity for Maryland and its citizens. The governor observed that the West African nation has a history of good diplomatic relations with the United States and the state of Maryland and that the memorandum of understanding between the two states was vital.
The Miss Africa USA Team was (a) part of this historical event. The team was present in full force to help with planning and organizing the Signing event. The African Royal Family mostly from Cameroon, members of the USA North West Fon’s Council were also present to show their support. Cameroon and Nigeria are very close neighbors and share boundaries, and common culture more so with the people of Cross River State, it was therefore an honor to support such an initiative.
The sister state agreement will provide a forum for economic development, tourism, and cultural understanding through business, high school, and university exchange programs, improvements in health care and more.
The initiation to establish a relationship with the state of Maryland was led by consultant Dr. Cheryl Hill for Cross River State and other partners. With Maryland’s tremendous population of Africans, particularly professionals, Governor Imoke says it’s a natural fit:
“We can tap into those resources. Actually this experience will translate into development for us. When we speak of Maryland as a state and the opportunities that it presents – it has a very structured system; it has a business community that is looking to invest in Nigeria and to Africa and we want to position ourselves as that entry point into Nigeria.