London – The Nigeria High Commissioner to UK, His Excellency Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola has tasked the Nigerian community in Britain to help develop Nigeria.
Ambassador Isola, who made this advise at a dinner organised for him by Dr. Olusegun Aganga (CON) former MD, Goldman Sachs London, former Nigeria Minister of Finance, former Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment at The Landmark Hotel London on Sunday 19 Sept’ 2021 said, “If Nigeria is to develop and get better, the Nigerians in the UK will have to drive it and create the development we seek as no other nation will do it for us.
“After all, Late Awolowo and his contemporaries were studying in the UK when they initiated most of the developments like Cocoa House, Ilupeju and Ikeja Industrial Estates, which are still thriving today. The British Nigerian Diaspora community have the capacity and the experience to do the same and even more”.
While advising the Diaspora to operate more as a group rather than as individual champions, asked where he could find 1000 Nigerians in the UK converging to run an agenda, citing that as the difference between Nigerians, the Indians and the Jews.
He then asked, why there are no Nigerian schools similar to the French schools in the UK?. “These are things that can bond us. These things are created. Nobody will come to create them for us”, he said.
Amb. Isola added that he is eager to see Nigerians in the UK create the structure to ensure a sustained engagement. A place to regularly meet, plan and execute programmes.
He made examples of the Swedish community in London. With a population of about 50,000, that have a Cemetery, Cultural centre, Chamber of commerce and Swedish restaurants in London. “The result is that trade between Sweden and Britain is fantastic”, he said.
At the occasion attended by selected highly successful British Nigerians professionals making significant impact to the UK economy, the host, Dr Olusegun Aganga, Olusegun Aganga, in his speech, advised that Nigerians should desist from sending out negative news about Nigeria.
According to him, Nigerians should know that there is sovereign goodwill that we all benefit from or lose from. “What we say about ourselves matters a lot. We all suffer from the negative news we circulate about ourselves”, said.
The former two time minister suggested the need for Nigerians to organise themselves properly, leverage their power and importance in the scheme of things.
He emphasized to the Diaspora the need to let Britain know that Nigerians in the UK are not only successful.
“We are significant in the scheme of things. There are highly successful British Nigerians in the UK. This is not about some illegal immigrants in Britain. “We need to organise programmes to bring out the best of Nigeria. We need to showcase ourselves properly for the British to know that we do have some level of influence especially when it comes to politics”, he said.
Earlier in his remarks, Ambassador Isola explained his efforts at reorganising the immigration section of the Nigeria High Commission to ensure that passport issuance is placed on automation.
He said, “Within three months, the Mission has been able to clear a backlog of 18months due to the pandemic lockdown resulting in 28,000 passports issued”.
He also hinted that the Nigeria Immigration Service would soon be issuing the enhanced passports with some having 10 years validity, this will reduce the frequency of renewals.
The High Commissioner expressed concern that the Netherlands has overtaken Britain in trade with Nigeria. Britain is now the 5th investor after the Netherlands. He then challenged the British Nigerians to do more to market Nigeria to the British people.
A suggestion was tabled around the possibility of celebrating Nigeria Day once a year in London, to showcase business people, film industry, music industry, arts, private equity firms, some of the outstanding Nigerians in the UK and some things around the culture sector.
Ambassador Isola made it known to his host and guests before he left the fruitful event that, he is pointing his searchlight and eager to headhunt for British Nigerians who are willing to commit funds and meet exclusively to work on building structures.