Nigerians from across the U.S. on Saturday converged on the City of Linden, in the State of New Jersey, to hold conversations on the way forward for their homeland.
The UN Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the conversation was organised by a U.S.-based Nigerian organisation, Lord and Nike’s, as part of the activities to commemorate Nigeria’s 61st independence anniversary.
NAN also reports that the event featured conversations about Nigeria, Nigerian musical performances, fashion parade and an award ceremony, among others.
Leading the conversation, the Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, Amb. Lot Egopija, paid tribute to Nigerians in the U.S. for their immense contributions to the growth and development of their homeland, through their expertise and resources.
“We all think about our great country, probably think about what has gone wrong with us,” he said.
“It is a cumulative of our laissez-faire attitude that has led us to where we are. But, we must consciously now come out of that and progress for the best wherever we are.
“Please, continue to give your utmost best, not because people are looking at you, but because you want to better the society.
“We all know what is good, but somehow, we fail to do them and some of us have accepted to follow the bandwagon”, he said.
Egopija said the Consulate-General in New York would continue to improve on its services across-the-board and also put good structures in place to ensure sustainability of the services.
“As government leaders in the U.S., we must do what we have to do to deliver the best services to our nationals. I urge Nigerians to continue to channel their skills and resources to building the country”, the Consul-General added.
Founder, Lord and Nike’s, Mrs Olanike Awoleye, said the event, which was the sixth edition celebrating the annual Nigeria Independence Day, was aimed at showcasing Nigeria’s diverse and rich cultures, particularly, the Igbo and Delta cultural heritage.
Awoleye said culture had a way of showcasing the beauty, diversified values and heritage of a particular people, noting the natural endowments of fertile land, rich mineral resources and the human capital of the most populous black nation on earth.
“A gathering like this shows us how Nigerians can think big and invest in the future of Nigeria, while living peacefully even with our cultural differences,” she said.
“The gathering is to also celebrate God’s faithfulness over Nigeria and to rebuild the hope of Nigerians at home and abroad on the dream of a greater Nigeria.
“It is also to recognise Nigerians, who are raising Nigeria’s flag higher in America, by making marks in their chosen fields, to foster mentorship and promote the Nigerian brand,” Awoleye said.
Also speaking, the President of NIDO, New Jersey Chapter, Dr Adeola Popoola, said Nigerians residing in the U.S. had contributed greatly and impacted on the socio-economic development of their host country and the homeland.
“Nigerians are industrious and I must commend the organiser for coming up with the programme that has succeeded in bringing Nigerians together for the past six years,’’ he said.
Poopola urged Nigerians to speak with one voice, saying, “we should work together for the unity of Nigeria.’’
In his remarks, the Mayor of Linden, Derek Armstead, said he was proud to associate with Nigeria and that it was a thing of joy that the county got its independence 61 years ago.
Armstead expressed confidence about Nigeria’s leadership position in Africa, saying, if there is any country that will lead Africa, it is Nigeria.
“We are from one big tribe in Africa, so we have the responsibility to move the nation forward. So, we should not be divided,’’ he said.
NAN reports that some Nigerians were honoured for being outstanding in their endeavours, among whom were Mrs Yemi Oladele, Social Secretary at the Nigerian Consulate in New York and Dr Nelson Aluya, a Physician and associate professor of medicine at Rutgers University, New Jersey.
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