Nigerians from all walks of life on Thursday evening, converged on Nigeria House, New York, for a conversation about various issues affecting Nigeria and the future of the country.
The event tagged: “170 Million People – Better Days Ahead’ was organised by The Nigeria Conversation, a project to engage Nigerians at home and diaspora to fashion a better future for the country.
Speakers at the event acknowledged the peculiar challenges facing the country and noted that there were more positive happenings and attributes that defined Nigeria and Nigerians.
The Guest Speaker, Sen. Rabiu Kwankwaso, in his remarks, said “the future of Nigeria is quite bright”.
“Our government in Nigeria has done a lot in terms of economic growth, especially the recent efforts of governments to bring the economy out of recession.
“These and many other achievements showcase the new direction of government in diversifying the economy from solely single commodity to other sectors of the economy,” he said.
Kwankwaso, represented by Nasiru Garo, member representing Gwarzo/Ikabo Federal Constituency, also highlighted the government’s social intervention programmes.
“Other programmes like the promotion of the micro, small and medium enterprises, the N-Power and many others were designed to empower the citizenry, encourage private enterprises and change the way government does business.”
The former Governor of Kano State added that “in a time like this, we need farsightedness and courage. We also have to be strategic and innovative in our thinking and creative in our approach”.
According to him, Nigeria’s new economic framework – the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan – aims to strengthen government response to the economic slowdown and lay solid foundation for sustainable development.
He added that the collective commitment of Nigerian leaders in the task of nation building was non-negotiable and required the support of Nigerians at home and in the diaspora.
Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Bande commended the conversation, saying “Nigeria is a vibrant country that is welcoming, exciting and never boring”.
“In the conversation, let’s us talk about Boko Haram. First of all, that Boko Haram represents no religion. It is just a bunch of people that misread everything and know nothing.
“Terror is unconnected to any religion but the conversation must be heard about Boko Haram and that when Nigeria decided that ‘enough is enough’, Boko Haram is on the run.”
The Nigerian envoy also said focus should also be on how to restore normalcy and rebuild the Northeast ravaged by huge humanitarian crisis.
“Nigeria unfortunately has fought a civil war and decided it did not want any more war. Institutions were created to strengthen the union and this is an ongoing project and we have a duty.
“This is a platform to rededicate ourselves to task. We must work to create a strong, just and free country called Nigeria.
“We must never give up this push to create and to make our country better. This is the conversation that I think we should have,” Bande said.
The Deputy Permanent Representative, Amb. Samson Itegboje, said the Nigeria of today is one where impunity is a thing of the past and the rule of law is upheld.
“There are a lot of good things that are happening in Nigeria and about Nigeria. This should be our conversation. We have to stop talking ills about the country.”
The Acting Consul-General of the Consulate General of Nigeria, New York, Mr Nicholas Ella, said the ‘Nigeria Conversation’ aimed to sensitise Nigerians in the diaspora of the progress at home.
“The whole essence of our gathering is to brainstorm, cross-fertilise ideas and exchange views on what is best for our country.
“Nigeria has all it takes, Nigeria has very reknowned professionals and experts you may think of and Nigeria needs us now.”
Ella said starting from Oct. 2, a new executive order would simplify visa and business application processes in the country.
“In the coming months, more good news will be coming from Nigeria and we can continue to hold meaningful Nigeria Conversation on the progress being made in Nigeria,” he said.
Former Chairperson, Board of Governors of Commonwealth Secretariat, Amb. Chris Nonis, in his goodwill message, commended the initiative to promote constructive dialogue between the government and the people of Nigeria.
“I am sure this will have significant impact towards the progress of Nigeria whilst concomitantly providing an opportunity for all of you in the Nigerian diaspora to unite and assist your motherland.”
The Chairman, Nigeria Conversation, Mr Blackson Bayewumi, said the event was a citizenship mainstreaming initiative, to positively and productively engage Nigerians at home and abroad on nation-building processes.
Bayewumi said the findings from the previous events of the conversation envisaged a better country that would meet the dreams of all.
He said since the Nigeria Conversation kicked off in June 2010 in Abuja, it had been held in many cities and countries across the world.
Newsmenreport that most participants from Nigeria and the diaspora cautioned against negative narratives like corruption and other vices by Nigerian officials, saying it discouraged investors.