By John Okeke
Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde has been conferred with the ‘Outstanding Leadership Award 2020’ by the Nigerian American Awards (NNA) for his “exemplary leadership and outstanding performance” for transforming governance landscape in the state.
Nigerian foremost business magnate and entrepreneur Dr Adedeji Adeleke, former Anambra Governor Peter Obi and Chairman of Nigerians Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, were also conferred with different categories of awards by NNA at the awards night in Florida, United States.
Adeleke, who is the Chairman of Pacific Holdings and proprietor of Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State, was conferred with ‘Business Entrepreneur of the Year 2020’ for his outstanding business performance and exemplary entrepreneurial leadership in Nigeria.
Obi bagged the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award 2020’ for outstanding entrepreneurship, exemplary leadership and visionary excellence especially for the transformation he carried out at Anambra during the period he was governor.
Dabiri-Erewa was also conferred with the ‘Visionary Leader of the Year 2020’ for showing exemplary leadership and being outstanding in handling affairs at NIDCOM.
Chairman of NAA, Dr Afolabi Andu, said the award was instituted by the Nigerian-American Business Forum (NABF) to recognise the contributions of Nigerians who are doing their best to change the narratives of the country.
Andu said the NABF was primarily established to bridge the gap between Nigerian-American-based businesses and their home-based counterparts in the public and private sector.
He commanded the awardees for their excellent representation of the Nigerian diasporas and contributions to Nigeria’s development.
Receiving the award, Adeleke, who was represented by Mr Alani Ogunlade, commanded NABF and NAA for the gesture and commended the forum for its innovative approach to driving investment into their homeland and national development, despite the challenging investment environment.
He said while he was qualified to boast of being a diaspora, however, he had returned home and deployed the skillsets he had acquired to chang the business and educational landscape in Nigeria, challenging fellow diasporas on the need to use their expertise and connections to develop their country.
The proprietor of Adeleke University said hundreds of students in the university were on scholarships adding, he has also continued to shoulder the responsibility of those who were on the scholarship of his late brother, Sen. Isiaka Adeleke.
Obi, in his remarks, thanked the organisers for the award and called on Nigerians in Diaspora to develop full interest in what happens in Nigeria, arguing that the task of developing Nigeria is for all Nigerians.
The former Anambra governor, who also received the award on behalf of Makinde, testified that the Oyo governor was on the right track to change governance and development landscape of the state, urging him not to be distracted.
He emphasised the need for leaders to save and always realise that a country that does not save is not conscious of the future and may likely bequeath anarchy rather than hope.
Obi thanked NABF for thinking about Nigeria, saying even thinking about the rot in the country is a proof that Nigerians in the diaspora are becoming aware of the missing link in the development of their homeland.
Using the Chinese, Indians and Jews as examples, he said it was the history of a people whose diasporas never forgot their homelands.
Dabiri-Erewa, in her remarks, expressed optimism that a more organised diaspora group like NABF would assist in re-channeling the energy among them homewards for the development of Nigeria.
The NIDCOM Chairman said Nigeria Diaspora remittances, now estimated at nearly $26 billion per annum, are second only to oil as source of national revenue adding, incidentally, most of these remittances are informal and uncategorised.
“Yet we cannot discount its (remittances) value and the good it can do to nation-building if properly leveraged. Nigeria, as it is, offers a huge demographic and consumer market,” Dabiri-Erewa said.
Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States Justice Sylvanus Nsofor (rtd), Consul-General of Nigeria in New York Ben Okoyen and Deputy Consuls General for New York and Atlanta Nicholas Ella and Innocent Iwejuo respectively.
Others were Nigerian diasporas drawn from across the continents.