Dr Abayomi Opaneye
Good afternoon fellow Nigerians and friends.
It gives me a great pleasure to welcome you on behalf of Nigerian Community on Teesside (NICOT) to this celebration of Nigeria and her independence. We give glory to God.
In the summer of 2006, a group of about 7 Nigerians had a series of meetings and eventually decided to form NICOT. We appreciate the help and assistance we received from other Nigerians in the UK as we debated and formulated our constitution, which has been ratified by the whole group. NICOT has been set up to meet the social and cultural needs of our people.
Our objectives are:
• To serve as a forum for Nigerians
• To project a positive image of Nigeria and Nigerians
• To provide and share information and education about Nigeria
• To enhance and facilitate welfare, communal and social programmes
• To carry out any other functions necessary or incidental to achieve the above goals
Name and image
What is in a name? Quite a lot actually! It is your identity. The name of our country (or country of origin) is NIGERIA. When that name is mentioned how do you feel? Proud, happy, excited, tall or do you sigh, shake your head and look away? What is your image of Nigeria? A place of health, sunshine, wealth, land of opportunities, or diseases, poverty and corruption? The choice is yours! Do you have a sense of hope or despair? Let me encourage you to have HOPE. The government in the geographical entity Nigeria is 47 years old but the peoples in that region have been there for hundreds of years with well established and functional systems. Jaja of OPOBO left a rich legacy, the OYO Empire was great, and so was SOKOTO caliphate and the IGBO culture has deep roots.
Role models for black children
In the news recently, it was mentioned that there is a need for role models for children of colour, especially black children. The proportion of people of colour in the UK is about 6-8%. However representations in various institutions and authorities vary widely. In the professions, boards of directors, chief executives, senior managers and policy makers there is gross under-representation with less than 0.1%. Unfortunately in the prisons, unemployment, and poor housing the proportion is high and noticeable! The men have been disenfranchised. Fellow Nigerians and friends, I KNOW that this will change. This is where we all come into the equation. Each person here is an agent for change. Nigerians are intelligent, resourceful, enterprising and happy people. Nigerians are the happiest people in the world! Each Nigerian and friend of Nigeria here today can help change the situation for better if we put our minds to it.
NICOT is a young group. Our meeting in April 2007 was successful. We need each person to register and pay the necessary subscriptions. It is ours, each person is important and we need all hands on deck. NICOT is not for a few people doing the work; we need money and active participation by all. I wish to thank everybody who has made today a success especially the members of the executive committee for their time, energy and money. I thank all our guests, especially the NANC chairman and our speaker. Above all, I thank all of you for coming. Have a fun-filled day. Long live Nigeria.
Abayomi Opaneye – President, Nigerian Community on Teesside.
The above speech was given by the Founding President of NICOT as celebrates Nigeria Independence October 2007. This is his first speech.