AMBASSADOR GEOFFREY I. TENEILABE,
CONSUL GENERAL OF NIGERIA, ATLANTA,
ON THE OCCASION OF THE CONGRATULATORY DINNER ORGANIZED IN HIS HONOUR BY NIDO.
APRIL 21, 2012.
His Excellency, Prof. Adebowale Adefuye,
My Wife, Mrs. Vesta Teneilabe,
President of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organization, (NIDO) in the Americas, Mr. Ademola Dada,
Honourary Consul General of Liberia, Ms. Cynthia Nash,
President of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organization, (NIDO) Georgia Chapter, Prof. Olu Olatidoye,
Prof. Emeritus. Augustine O. Esogbue, NNOM (Nigeria National Order of Merit)
Hon. Poroma, Commissioner , Rivers State,
Friends of Nigeria,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to express profound thanks to the Georgia Chapter of the Nigerians In Diaspora Organization (NIDO), all Institutions and individuals who have contributed in one way or another to make this event the success that it is. I thank you for your distinguished presence this evening and for investing your time in this occasion.
2. I wish to use this opportunity to thank Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, for considering me worthy of the appointment of an Ambassador. Above all, I give Almighty God the glory for making this appointment a possibility because promotion comes neither from the East nor from the West but from the good Lord Himself. At a certain stage in a man’s life, no material wealth is of better value compared to honour. And for honouring me , honour shall also come your way.
3. The Consulate General of Nigeria, Atlanta, covers a total of seventeen (17) States in the Southeast of the United States. The area has an estimated population of over 119 million people, the largest concentration of African-Americans with all the cultural affiliations of Nigeria to our black brothers and sisters. The District is also the center of the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S., the highest concentration of Nigerians, and an economy of about $4.5 trillion.
4. Assigning an Ambassador to head the Consular Post may, among other considerations, be a recognition by the Nigerian government of the importance of Atlanta and the need for a greater drive of government policies in the Consular District.
5. NIDO, which is pivotal to the holding of this event, is an association for the socio-economic development of Nigeria. It embraces all ethnic groups, creed and affiliations. Doubtlessly, there have been challenges towards the achievement of its set goals, objectives and organizational abilities but there is no gainsaying its dedication to the unity and harmony of Nigerians in the Diaspora.
6. Some of you may have noticed that I do not attend ethnic events except out of deference for visiting top dignitaries from Nigeria. This line of action is deliberate, aimed at discouraging ethnic irredentism and unsavoury rivalries among our many ethnic groups or their leaders.
7. I belong to all Nigerians irrespective of tribe or creed. It is important that Nigerians live in unity, harmony, oneness as one another’s brothers and sisters’ keepers. They should as well provide unity of purpose such as NIDO and other federal character organizations which memberships are open to all Nigerians are doing.
8. Permit me, therefore, to appeal to all Nigerians to embrace NIDO as the umbrella organization that symbolizes our unity of purpose and oneness. The new NIDO, should be devoid of the challenges of the past, including in-fighting, struggle for power, selfishness and other unpleasant vices.
9. As you well know, the President Jonathan Administration has embarked on the Vision 20: 2020 economic programme aimed at transforming Nigeria from its current 41st position to the 20th biggest economy by the year 2020, with a GDP of $900 billion. Pursuant to this, the government has embarked on the Transformational Agenda as a catalyst for an accelerated development of the country in respect of infrastructure, agriculture, power, job creation, youth development, among other things. At over 7.5% growth rate, the economy is among the 10 fastest growing ones in the world but we want a combination of growth and development, so there is a need for all hands to be on deck for sustainability.
10. On this note, I wish to thank some of you for the enthusiasm demonstrated in your quest to be present during the aborted launch of $2.5 billion Nigerian Diaspora Bond, which was scheduled to take place in New York on April 17, 2012. We shall continue to count on your goodwill in this direction in pursuit of the government’s desire for the development of our fatherland.
11. You are important to us because the most valuable resource of any country is its human capital. You are important to us because the remittances of about $18 billion to Nigeria by the Diaspora community worldwide, of which you are a part, make a huge difference in our economic empowerment.
11. You are important to us because your humanitarian gestures in sending home medicines, books, medical equipment, grants of scholarships etc, contribute immensely to the socio–economic wellbeing of our fatherland. I urge you to continue to be steadfast in these good endeavours and continue to support our government.
12. On our part, we shall assert out best endeavours to encourage you, reposition NIDO and indeed all other Nigerian organizations whose membership are open to all Nigerians. I will continue to dedicate my time to serve you better and faster. I will continue to operate an open door policy, such that any Nigerian that desires to see or reach me could do so without let or hindrance. I will continue to be your servant leader in truth and in deed.
13. The Consulate General will continue, despite constraints, to occasionally embark on passport intervention exercises by taking passport issuances to the doorsteps of our nationals, thereby relieving them of some of the pains of coming all the way to Atlanta.
14. I wish you all the best and thank you, once again, for your time and your valuable presence here.