A strong bond has over the years been built between Atlanta in the United States of America and the city of Lagos in Nigeria. The strong relationship between these two cities resulted in the creation of what is known as a sister city relationship that dates as far back as 1974.
The sister city relationship was first initiated by Maynard Holbrook Jackson, the Mayor of Atlanta, whose sister was married to a Nigerian living in Lagos. Since then, several Nigerian scholars have campaigned for continued partnerships between Lagos city and different institutions in Atlanta alumni.
One man, who has continued to midwife strong relationships between the two cities, is Prof. Augustine Esogbue, a Professor Emeritus in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech.
Prof. Esogbue is the Chair of the Atlanta- Lagos Sister Cities Committee, an affiliate of the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission, which is the custodian of the twin cities relationship.
Timescape Magazine understands that the relationship between Atlanta and Lagos has been mutually beneficial to the two famous cities, as there have been several cultural, trade missions and other developmental areas of human endeavour.
The role played by the Atlanta-Lagos Sister Cities Committee in the establishment of the Consulate General of Nigeria in Atlanta and the addition of Delta Air Lines’ direct nonstop flight between Atlanta and Lagos cannot be overemphasized.
There is no doubt that through these efforts, there has been a steady rise in Atlanta’s Nigerian population and Nigerian organizations in the metro Atlanta area. Atlanta is now home to the fifth largest Nigerian diaspora population in the United States.
The Atlanta-Lagos Sister Cities Committee assisted the Georgia Institute of Technology in developing strategic partnerships with four Nigerian universities focused on advanced technical programs and capacity building. Through the Atlanta-Lagos Sister Schools Program, the Committee also provides school supplies and promotes Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programs with four schools – Boys Junior Academy, Eko Akete Grammar School, St. Mathias Primary School, and Anwar Islam Girls Primary School- all on Lagos Island.
As part of his effort to further solidify the existing relationship between Atlanta and Lagos, Prof. Esogbue was in Lagos recently to interface with committee members and paid visits to the two local governments on Lagos Island which are under the purview of the Atlanta-Lagos Sister Cities Committee operations – Lagos Island Local Government and Lagos Island East Local Council Development Area (LCDA).
According to Esogbue, who is also the Vice-Chairman of the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission, the Atlanta-Lagos Sister Cities Committee is out to add value to the people of the two Lagos councils, revealing that the Committee will partner with the two mayors in the areas of quality healthcare delivery to the people, in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), cultural exchange, economics and environment.
“I want to assure you that I am committed to Lagos despite the fact that I hail from Delta State. This is because Lagos, especially Lagos Island, is part of my life and I would love to do everything within my power to leave a legacy,” Prof. Esogbue, who is a member of Leadership Atlanta Development Corporation, and the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc told the mayors during the visits.
Esogbue wanted the mayors to work with the members of the Atlanta-Lagos Sisters Cities Committee in Nigeria to harness the inherent opportunities that abound in the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission.
He told Timescape Magazine that he has mandated the Committee to work with the mayors of the two local government areas to bring back to life the relationship between the City of Lagos and the City of Atlanta.
“This will be a win-win mutual benefit for the people here in Lagos. I want us to tap into the exchange programmes and more importantly to take the relationship beyond the superficial arrangement,” said Prof. Esogbue.
One of the mayors, Mr. Tijani Olusi of Lagos Island Local Government, canvassed for more project presence of the Atlanta-Lagos Sister Cities Committee in his community. He recalled how the October 2020 EndSARS protest wreaked havoc on many government facilities in the area.
“We were severely hit by this protest. Unfortunately, we are back to square one trying to rebuild everything that was destroyed by the protesters. My Local Government would be happy with the support from the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission to help rejuvenate facility decay in the health sector and greater support for our educational development programme as the government cannot do it alone,” Olusi said.
His counterpart in the Lagos Island East, Mr. Ayinde Folawiyo said “We have a lot of projects, but we are constrained with limited funds, which is why we will need support from the Atlanta-Lagos Sister Cities Committee to do more for our people.”
Atlanta- Lagos Sister Cities Committee, one of the oldest members of the 17 cities relationships worldwide that make up the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission, is part of the Sister Cities International whose primary mission is the promotion of better international relations and understanding between the United States of America Cities and other cities of the world through people to people programs that revolve around the axis of social, educational, economic, trade, cultural and technological exchanges.