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Looking for Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) this week? You might want to hop a plane to Nigeria, where the executive is currently conducting a nine-day trade mission. The trip included a celebration of the 47th anniversary of Nigeria's independence on Monday and a planned address to the nation's Congress on Wednesday night.
"We're going to build a first class economy in Prince George's county," he said in an interview, explaining the trip just before he left. "Our economy pays for everything we're doing in this county."
The trip is Johnson's third to Africa since becoming executive. On previous trips, he has also visited Senegal and the Gambia. This time around he was accompanied by two county aides and seven county residents of Nigerian descent, said county spokeswoman Denise Roberts.
Prince George's is home to one of the region's largest population of African immigrants and Johnson has long sought ties with the community.
The delegation included internist George Ego-Osuala, Alexander Nnabue, an eye doctor, and Remi Duyile, the CEO of a mortguage company in Hyattsville. According to campaign finance reports, Ego-Osuala is a Johnson supporter and hosted a fundraiser for his reelection effort on Aug. 15, 2006 that raised more thn $31,000 for Johnson's campaign.
Others on the trip were Isiaka Ajisekala, Franklin Akinokye, Engk Simon Evegbunam and Philip Jjowusi.
According to County Spokesman James Keary, the county paid about $7,400 for airfare for Johnson, chief of staff Michael D. Herman, Director of the Office of Community Relations Chris Osuji and police Cpl. Harry Walker, who served as security for Johnson during the trip. Johnson sat in business class, the others in coach, Keary said. He estimated the trip, in total, will cost the cost about $15,000. The business people paid their own way.
Johnson's travel habits came under fire after it was revealed last year that he used his county credit card to buy a business class ticket for the Senegal trip. It is not unusual for top political leaders to travel overseas to promote economic development or attend conferences. Keary said traveling business class allowed Johnson to get work done on the long flight. "You're meeting with government officials and business people. You have to be on your game," Keary said.
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