By Adedapo Adesanya The Akwa-Ibom state government has urged the United States of America (USA) and its investors to partner with the state in the development of the Ibom Deep Seaport. The call was made by the state governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, when the Chief of Political and Economic Affairs of the US Consulate in Nigeria, Mr Brandon Hudspeth, paid a courtesy visit at Government House, Uyo on Tuesday. Mr Emmanuel, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Mr Moses Ekpo, said the seaport was conceived and programmed to be the flagship of the shipping industry, adding that it stemmed from its strategic location, which is endowed with natural draught and direct access to all parts of the world including the US. He pointed out that the US had enjoyed a robust bilateral relationship with Nigeria since the nation\u2019s independence, adding that huge investment opportunities abound in the state for American investors to explore. Speaking, Mr Hudspeth said he visited the state as part of his tour of the Niger Delta region, saying it was a show of his country\u2019s interest in the oil-rich region. He stressed that the visit was to strengthen the relationship between the states of the region and America, noting that to achieve the aim, he hoped to interact, discuss and have a better understanding that would create further mutual benefits for both countries. Recall that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved the Ibom deep seaport plan last year. The seaport will allow shippers to import and export petroleum products, export oil and gas, in addition to offering container handling and bulk trade. The plan calls for the port to be the deepest in West Africa. Progress on the Ibom Deep port has been slow but the Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC) through its executive secretary, Mr Hassan Bello, had said it should begin operating this year.