Mon | Nov 28, 2022

Nigerians in Jamaica celebrate 62 years of Independence

Published:Friday | October 7, 2022 | 12:08 AMPaul H. Williams/Gleaner Writer
Leslie Campbell (left) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, and Nigerian charge d’affaires in Jamaica, Johnson Badewole, cut a cake to commemorate Nigeria’s 62 years of Independence at the Nigerian High Commission on Waterloo Road in St Andrew, on Saturday, October 1.
Some members of the Nigerian community in Jamaica at the celebration to mark Nigeria’s 62 years of Independence at the Nigerian High Commission on Waterloo Road in St Andrew, on Saturday, October 1.
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In August, Jamaica celebrated 60 years of Independence, having been a sovereign nation since 1962. And, on Saturday, October 1, The Federal Republic of Nigeria celebrated 62 years of Independence.

This is significant since both countries were once colonies of Britain, and many Jamaicans are descendants of Nigerians who were brought here to work on plantations in the brutal institution of British slavery.

The Nigerian community and diplomats in Jamaica observed the day at an official service at the residence of the Nigerian high commissioner and a gathering at the Nigerian High Commission on Waterloo Road in St Andrew. However, Nigerian high commissioner to Jamaica, Belize, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Dr Maureen Tamuno, was not present to celebrate with her compatriots.

She was away, in her capacity as Nigeria's permanent representative to the International Seabed Authority, to participate in the Fourth Session of the African Deep Seabed Resources Project Workshop, in collaboration with the International Seabed Authority, the African Union and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, from October 5 to 7, in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, Nigeria.

Dr Tamuno was represented on Saturday by Charge d'affaires Johnson Badewole. He said “The occasion has once again provided an opportunity to appreciate the positive contributions of our founding fathers and nationalists who fought for self-rule that eventually birthed Nigeria's Independence on October 1, 1960”.

He said further, “With the solid foundation laid, Nigeria has been able to confront current and emerging challenges, national and global challenges …. With a population of well over 220 million people, Nigeria remains a major player in global affairs, and we will continue to remain steadfast to our commitment to the values that bind us together, namely the promotion of international peace, security and development.”

He added that Jamaica's relationship with Nigeria was strengthened with the hosting of the Fourth Nigeria-Jamaica Joint Commission in Abuja last February, and that he was “confident that very soon both countries would be signing a memorandum of understanding in areas of mutual interest for the benefits of our people”.

Badewole also mentioned the recent visit of Geoffrey Onyeama, the minister of foreign affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who visited the island with a cultural delegation to help commemorate Emancipation Day. They attended and participated in the Emancipation Day Vigil at Seville Heritage Park in St Ann. Badewole said “the significance of the visit cannot be overemphasised. Beyond supporting Jamaica's celebration of freedom from the slave trade, the occasion was used for strengthening cultural relations between Nigeria and Jamaica”. Jamaica and Nigeria have had diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between themselves since 1970.

And, in an effort to benefit from “areas of comparative advantages”, a high-level trade delegation from Nigeria comprising four ministers and chief executive officers of companies had been expected to be in Jamaica over the weekend, but threats from Hurricane Ian put the mission on hold until the first quarter of 2023.

“After Nigeria, Jamaica is our second home. It is our responsibility to obey the laws of the host country, accord the country and her citizens deserved respect, and show that we care for them as much as we care for ourselves,” Badewole told the gathering which included diplomats from other countries.

Turning to the upcoming elections in Nigeria, Badewole appealed to Nigerians in the diaspora to “continue to support the system by encouraging their relatives in Nigeria to elect credible leaders who will lead our great country to the much-desired promised land”.

“I am confident that, as good ambassadors of our great country, you will continue to sustain the giant strides attained in your professional callings and moral conduct,” he shared.

He ended by saying, among other things, “At this juncture, I wish to express my heartfelt appreciation to past and present executive members of the Nigerian Association in Jamaica. Permit me to particularly applaud Mr Eze Theophilus for his leadership and cooperation extended to me since my arrival in Jamaica.”

paul.williams@gleanerjm.com