In a keynote address at the Alliance of Nigerian Organizations in Georgia held on Saturday evening of Oct. 21, Dr. Augustine Esogbue called on the 50,000 Nigerians living in Georgia to expand Nigeria’s profile by hosting a cultural festival similar to JapanFest and others put on by local ethnic communities.
A professor emeritus at Georgia Institute of Technology’s Steward School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Dr. Esogbue said that the richness of African culture was becoming recognized around the world and that Nigerians had an obligation to let Atlantans and Georgians “know that we exist.”
“Let’s project ourselves,” he said, while praising the Alliance of Nigerian Organizations for recognizing the accomplishments of its members with its annual “image and service awards” and unifying under a single, umbrella entity 49 different Nigerian organizations active in the state.
He acknowledged that Nigeria suffered from a wide range of divisions due to its hundreds of different ethnic groups and the varied professional, religious and social interests of its people.
Associations such as the ANOG in Georgia, he said, have an obligation to encourage leadership and to begin grooming Nigerian youth with the skills to become leaders and be members of local organizations such as Leadership Atlanta and Leadership Georgia.
He praised the support of the Consulate General of Nigeria for the organization dating back to the early 1990s when it was first formed and praised the involvement in its early years of former Consuls General Martin Uhomoibhi and Joe Keshi, who went on from Atlanta to stellar diplomatic careers on behalf of their country.
“The biggest challenge,” he said, “is to prepare a group of high performing youths with constant training to face the complex problems facing their country.” Atlanta, he added, provided a good training ground since it had emerged from its status as a rural town into a global city, much as Nigeria has emerged as a developing country.
It seemed appropriate that the first of four awards went to Ayodele Dare, an agricultural communications major at the University of Georgia.
Mr. Dare has been active in a large number of non-profit organizations such as Books for Africa, MedShare and the Red Cross Blood Drive, while honing his professional and leadership skills by serving as president of the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) at the University of Georgia.
He also has parlayed his involvement in MANRRS where he currently serves as vice president for the region to learn more about agribusiness by meeting representatives of the region’s agricultural companies.
He received and the other awardees received their awards from Kayode Laro, Nigeria’s current consul general based in Atlanta, who since his assuming the post has promoted the strengthening of agricultural ties between the Southeast and his country.
Other recipients of the awards were Dr. Ali Garba, 1st vice president of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, who traveled from Milwaukee, Wisc., to accept his award. In his acceptance remarks, he said that he agreed with the proposed festival providing an opportunity for Nigerians to display the breadth of their culture.
In addition to having a prestigious financial career, Dr. Garba has been active as a philanthropist through his Garba Family Foundation Fund, which supports the Diaspora Institute of Nigerian Justice and Accountability. He also has backed the Kaduna Institute that provides basic trade skills to unemployed as well as university graduates in the area of information technology and electrical engineering.
Emelia Orubele, president and CEO of the American-Nigerian International Chamber of Commerce since 2005, and president and CEO of the CNU Medical Institute since 2003. also was honored with an award. In addition, she is on the board of directors of the Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists and has promoted relationships with the Nigerian Ministry of Health and other Nigerian organizations.
An award also was given to Dr. Emmanuel Soyoola, who is a doctor of obstetrics and gynecology doctor and pastor of the Abundant Life Chapel in Lawrenceville. Dr. Soyoola was born in Florin, Nigeria, and also is a doctor of veterinary medicine having received a master’s degree from Tuskegee University and a doctorate from Auburn University. He received his M.D. from the Morehouse School of Medicine in 1998 where he was the chief resident of his class.
Ndubueze Anthony Alaka, president of ANOG, gave the welcoming address encouraging the attendees to excel in their chosen professions and be active members of the community.
While professing his love for Nigeria, he also said that it was important that they become involved in local organizations. To underscore his allegiance to the U.S., he said he had chosen to wear a Western suit rather than traditional dress, which the majority of attendees wore.
Before the end of the evening celebration held at the Georgia Piedmont Technical College in Clarkson several cultural groups entertained the guests with Nigerian dances.
The members of ANOG include:
Abiriba Communal Improvement Union, Afenmai Association of Georgia Inc., Akure Oloyemekun Atlanta Chapter, Akwa Ibom State Association of Nigeria (USA) Atlanta Chapter Inc., Anaedo Social Club International Inc., Anioma Association USA Inc. Atlanta Chapter, Akwa Ibom State Association of Nigeria (USA), Anaedo Social Club International, Anioma Association USA Inc. Atlanta Chapter, Asaba Progressive Union Atlanta Chapter, Asaba Progressive Union Atlanta Chapter, Bayelsa State Association of Atlanta, Atlanta Green Eagles Soccer Club, Egbe Omo Yoruba Greater Atlanta, Ekimogun Social Club of Georgia Inc., Eko Club Atlanta, Enugu State Women Organization Atlanta, Esan Leadership Forum of Georgia Inc., Esan Progressive Association of Atlanta, Igala Association USA Atlanta Chapter, Igbo Union Atlanta, Igbodo Development Union, Ijesha Omo Obokun Club of Georgia, Ika Association USA Atlanta Chapter, Ikeduru Association Atlanta, Isiekenesi Improvement Union, Isoko Association of Atlanta Inc. and the Ndokwa Association in America Inc Atlanta Chapter,
Nigerian Ministers Fellowship, Nigerian Nurses Association of Georgia, Nigerian Progressive Association of South Side Ga., Nto Annang Foundation, Nigerian Women Association of Georgia, Nigerian Youth Alliance, Nnewi Union of Atlanta Inc., Obafemi Awolowo University of Alumni Association Georgia Chapter, Ondo State Association of Georgia, Onima Institute for Tradition and Development USA Inc., Orlu Regional Union Atlanta, Otu Umunne Cultural Organization, Out Umuokpu Anambra USA Atlanta Chapter, Owerri Family Union, Owo United Association, Positive Nigeria, The Nubians, Tiv-American Foundation Inc. in Snellville, Uma G’bae N’Edo Club of Atlanta, Uimuada Igbo Nigeria USA Atlanta Chapter, University of Nigeria Alumni and Friends Association (USA) Atlanta Chapter, Uranran Iwere ((Itsekiri) Ga., Urhobo Association of Georgia, Yorubas of Atlanta and Zumunta Association Atlanta.
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