Nigerian Canadians join national conversation

“Nigeria conversation” offers opportunity to diaspora to participate in national debate on governance and national development

Abmassador Oyekun, centre, with Chuks Imiaghagbe, Stella Kemdirim, Berne Nwaiwu, Blackson Bayewumi, Wale Ade Sanya and Yomi Pratt             Photo copyright Black Ottawa Scene

Saturday 7 April

About a hundred people of Nigerian heritage were at the Infiniti Convention Centre on Gibford Drive to participate in a forum organised by the Nigeria High Commission. The theme was: “Nigeria conversation”, and according to the announcement, its aim was to promote inclusive governance and diaspora collaboration through interaction with Nigerians in Canada on nation-building and national development, as well as being a platform for Nigerians in Canada to present their views on topical issues of national importance as the outcome of the event would be conveyed to the Nigerian Government.. Unfortunately much to the frustration and disappointment of the audience, none of the  advertised keynote speakers was present, namely: His Excellency Rochas Anayo Rochas, Imo State Governor;  Hon. Mikainu Amanokha (Hon. Commissioner for Youth & Special Duties, Edo State) representing the Edo State Governor, and Alhaji Kabiru Tanimu Turaki,  former Honourable Minister of Inter-Governmental Affairs and Special Duties. According to an official of the High Commission, they were unable to travel to Canada due to schedule conflict with urgent state matters. 

Regardless of that, the coordinator of the Nigeria conversation, Mr. Blackson  Bayewumi outlined the genesis of this forum which he said was modelled around the Commonwealth conversation that had brought key players within this institution to discuss issues pertaining to their mission and continued growth. He said that similar conversations had been held across the globe in such places as New York, Paris, Abuja and London. He outlined some of the areas Nigerians in the diaspora: employment, health,  education, investments, industrialization and gave examples of how the government could change its practices for greater efficiency and effectiveness. A number of speakers from the audience asserted that similar forums had been held in the past and that nothing of substance had resulted from them. Others gave suggestions on how to improve the country citing such vital areas as security, investments by diaspora Nigerians, how to manage loot recovered from corrupt public officials, health, aviation, agriculture, education and more.  The Hon High Commissioner himself Ambassador  Adeyinka Asekun gave examples of how the embassy was helping to transmit useful ideas form Nigerians living in Canada directly to the Federal government e.g. 5  nuclear scientists who had developed a proposal for harnessing and using nuclear power in Nigeria, had their proposal sent by express dispatch to the relevant Nigerian minister. 

All photos copyright Black Ottawa Scene

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